The rights to reconstruct Kisho Kurokawa's iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower are currently sold on one of the largest NFT sites. While the tower’s demolition has begun earlier this year, the auction sells the right to rebuild the structure, in both the metaverse and in real space. The idea of recreating the Metabolic building in a virtual space seems natural. It could allow a larger community to explore an iconic piece of architecture and encourage them to experiment with it, an initiative in line with Metabolist ideals. On the other hand, the idea of reconstructing a demolished historical building in the physical world raises a different set of conflicting emotions. Architectural replicas are not the norm, but their existence raises questions regarding the identity and authenticity of works of architecture.
Metabolism: The Latest Architecture and News
World War II left a profound influence on the evolution of society, introducing significant changes in the fields of urban planning and architecture. During the 1930s, the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) promoted modernism on an international scale. After the war, this architectural movement became firmly established as the dominant one, driven by the imperative of reconstruction and technological advancements. Influential figures like Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto spearheaded this movement.
In 1959, the same year as the final CIAM meeting, Japanese architects like Kenzō Tange, Kishō Kurokawa —the designer of the Nakagin Capsule Tower—, and Kiyonori Kikutake began to explore new approaches to urban design and architecture, known as the Metabolist movement. This exploration was particularly significant in the context of Tokyo's rapid repopulation after the war and the scarcity of resources for reconstruction. Innovative concepts such as Marine City, The City in the Air, and the 1960 plan for Tokyo emerged, which proposed the city as a constantly evolving organism and emphasized the relationship between humans and their built environment. These ideas shaped the concept of "megacities" and reflected Japan's creative response to its challenging postwar situation.
Japanese digital consultancy Gluon plans to preserve the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building in Tokyo, one of the most representative examples of Japanese Metabolism by Kisho Kurokawa. The “3D Digital Archive Project” is using a combination of measurement techniques to record the iconic building in three dimensions and recreate it in the metaverse. The tower is currently being demolished due to the structure's precarious state and incompatibility with current seismic standards, as well as the general state of decay and lack of maintenance.
‘’In the background there is still invisible Japanese tradition’’, expresses Kisho Kurokawa, in an excerpt from the film ‘Kochuu’. He puts an emphasis on Japanese tradition, an architectural tradition that rejects symmetry despite the utilization of high-tech. He contemplates the Nakagin capsule tower (1972) a mixed-use residential and office tower located in Tokyo, Japan. The first of capsule architecture built for practical and permanent use.
Jesper Wachtmeister’s ‘Kochuu’ is based upon the influence and origins of Modernist Japanese architecture. Through visions of the future, tradition and nature, it amplifies elements of Japanese tradition and its impact on Nordic design. The narrative tells us of how contemporary Japanese architects strive to unite the ways of modern man with old philosophies to create anew.
One of the most iconic examples of Metabolist architecture, Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower, might be headed for demolition, as the building was sold by the management association to the landowner earlier this year, as reported by Japan Forward. The tower's demise has been intensely speculated in recent years due to the structure's precarious state and incompatibility with current seismic standards.
Kisho Kurokawa (April 8th 1934 – October 12th 2007) was one of Japan's leading architects of the 20th century, perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Throughout the course of his career, Kurokawa advocated a philosophical approach to understanding architecture that was manifest in his completed projects throughout his life.
Modernism could be described as one of the most optimistic styles in architectural history, drawing from notions of utopia, innovation, and the reimagination of how humans would live, work, and interact. As we reflected in our AD Essentials Guide to Modernism, the philosophy of Modernism still dominates much of architectural discourse today, even if the world that gave rise to Modernism has changed utterly.
As we say goodbye to 2019, a year that saw the centenary of the Bauhaus, we have collated a list of key architectural styles that defined Modernism in architecture. This tool for understanding the development of 20th-century design is complete with examples of each style, showcasing the practice of Modernism that lay behind the theory.
As self-driven cars are being introduced to our city streets and tech companies have expanded their influence far beyond the boundaries of our computer and smartphone displays, a new generation of architects are charged with imagining how to employ the technology of tomorrow in ways that will advance and improve the world’s built environments. With autonomous transportation, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence promising unprecedented tools for revolutionizing human infrastructure in a future that no longer feels particularly distant, present-day data gathering and analysis capabilities have already transformed our ability to understand trends on an unforeseen scale.
Taking full advantage of modern data science capabilities and semi-automated robotic technology currently deployed in factory settings around the world, Masters candidate Stanislas Chaillou from the Harvard GSD imagines how today’s new tech could help realize the longtime architectural ambition of creating flexible buildings capable of adapting to variable uses.
A new exhibition, opening later this month in London, aims to examine the varying ways that cities and communities have been re-imagined in the aftermath of natural, or man-made, disasters. Including work by Yasmeen Lari, ELEMENTAL, OMA, Shigeru Ban, NLÉ, Toyo Ito, Metabolism (Kenzo Tange and Kurokawa Kisho) and Sir Christopher Wren, who redesigned London in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1666, the exhibition will primarily explore contemporary responses to earthquakes and tsunamis. Posing questions about the fragility of architecture, our relationship to nature, and the power of architects to instigate change, it will ask whether we are facing a paradigm shift in the way that cities and communities recover from destruction.
In this interview, originally published in The Architectural Review, Andrew Mackenzie sits down with OMA founder Rem Koolhaas to discuss the Venice Biennale, the extinction of national identities, his fascination with Asia, the link between De Rotterdam and Delirious New York, and the future of the profession.
Your proposition for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, as you say, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. Some might view this as a project of reclamation, not unlike Frampton’s regionalism. How would you differentiate your proposition from Frampton’s?
Well, Kenneth Frampton is a smart guy, but the problem is that he looked at regionalism as an antidote to cosmopolitan development. In so doing he perverted the cause of regionalism, because suddenly regionalism was mobilised as a private cause that it couldn’t sustain. However, the question of national identity is an open one. For instance, at first sight the Netherlands is a very internationalist country, but looking closely you can see an enormous return of, not vernacular, but quasi-vernacular architecture and quasi-old fortresses that are newly built with a national flavour. Look at Zaandam, and that huge assemblage of so-called vernacular buildings.
In this article, first published in the Australian Design Review as "The Meeting of East and West: Kikutake and Le Corbusier", Michael Holt outlines the cross-fertilization of ideas that helped spawn the Japanese Metabolist movement, focusing on how Le Corbusier's ideals were key in the design of one of the movement's most enigmatic projects, Kiyonori Kikutake's Sky House.
Japanese architect Kiyonori Kikutake’s Sky House (1958) remains an exemplary project that defines the Metabolist agenda but, more significantly, underscores the notion that a single-family dwelling can be ideologically recursive and strategic. Kikutake, however, was not without a somewhat unlikely precedent in the renowned Le Corbusier.
Both architects established an order and method of working via their smallest designs – Kikutake in Sky House and Le Corbusier at Villa Savoye (1929) – and developed their notions through written accounts (Kikutake’s Metabolist Manifesto, 1960 and Le Corbusier’s Purist Manifesto, predating the built work, in 1918). Finally, each scales up their ideas to the level of the urban through Kikutake’s Tower-Shaped Community Project (1959) and Le Corbusier’s Urbanisme at Chandigarh, India (1953). To locate the origin of the influence, it is necessary to first examine Le Corbusier’s position as the figurehead of Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM).
Read on for more about this unlikely chain of influence
Seizing on the current trend for 'micro-apartments' in cities such as New York, Fast Company has an interesting profile (including some great photos) of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the 1972 Japanese building, one of the first (and still one of the most extreme) examples of small-plan living. The article explores both the successful and unsuccessful elements of the design, such as the difficult maintenance and non-openable windows, as well as the ongoing battle for preservation since the residents voted to replace the tower with a conventional building. You can read the full article here.
“Architects today tend to depreciate themselves, to regard themselves as no more than just ordinary citizens without the power to reform the future.” - Kenzo Tange
In honor of what would have been Kenzo Tange’s 100th birthday, AD Classics presents one of the Japanese master’s most iconic projects - the Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center. Built in 1967, the building was the first spatial realization of Tange’s Metabolist ideas of organically-inspired structural growth, developed in the late 1950s. The Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center is far more significant than its relatively small size would suggest, encapsulating the concepts of the new Metabolistic order in architecture and urban planning that prevailed in post-World War II Japan.
More about this icon of Metabolism after the break….
This lecture, brought to you by the Harvard Graduate School of Design, explores the Metabolism movement of the 1960s and its influence on Japanese Architecture through today. Toyo Ito reflects on the life of Kiyonori Kikutake and the continued relevance of his works and ideas in today’s design culture.
Continue reading for more…