Metabolism Architecture’s Sustainable Ideals

As a biological term, Metabolism refers to a series of chemical transformations within a cell to sustain life. The key word here is sustainability. It was first used in architecture in 1960’s by a group of young Japanese architects. The leaders of the group included Maki. Isozaki and Kurokawa. In conjunction with Tokyo 1964 Olympic and Osaka 1970 World Expo, the group put forwards new ideas in architecture and urban design such as the Ocean City and Space City. Among these ideas, Kurokawa’s Agriculture City is the most interesting to me.  Many believe that Metabolist Movement was influenced by American architect Louis Kahn’s idea of localism and universal design. Some also believe that it was rooted in Buddhism’s concept of rebirth. Whether or either claim is true, Metabolist Movement’s main concept of growth in architecture and the ideas of renewal and self-regeneration of cities constitute an ideology that has plenty of merit in today’s world.

Kurokawa’s Agricultural City was a hypothesis designed to express theory and ideas. The City was built over agricultural land supported by special structures that are basic modular components of Japanese habitats. Small groups of several families form small villages, which in turn make up self-reliant cities. This city structure is built for internal healthy circulation with emphasis on recycle, regenerate and be sustainable.

The Metabolist Movement came into being during 1970’s oil crisis. People were forced to think about energy resources and natural environment. More than 50 years later, this subject is even more critical today. The cities are becoming increasingly more dense, natural recourse more depleted, and economies more interrelated. It will be refreshing to re-examine the Metabolist Movement and get inspired by its ideas.


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