Structuralism and metabolism

Ioannidou, Ersi (2009) Structuralism and metabolism. In: Structuralism in Architecture & Urbanism RELOADED; 19-22 Nov 2009, Munich, Germany. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper investigates to what extent Structuralism influenced the work of the Japanese Metabolists. In 1960, the Metabolists stepped onto the international architectural scene with the presentation of their manifesto Metabolism 1960 at the World Design Conference in Tokyo. Throughout the 1960s, they proposed a series of urban schemes where the city was envisioned as a growing and changeable organism constituted by two parts: a primary long-life ever-expanding infrastructure which supports secondary disposable elements necessary for urban life such as prefabricated housing capsules. Their schemes were characterized by an impressive use of technology and mega-structural scale. Obvious similarities can be observed between Metabolism’s and Structuralism’s design strategies such as, the use of identifiable repetitive elements, the allowance for growth and change, a distinction between primary structures with long-life cycle and secondary in-fills with shorter life cycles. However, the application of such methods and principles of design is not necessarily grounded in the theory of Structuralism. In their texts, the Metabolists argue that their theory and practice are firmly grounded in Japanese history and culture. Still, they were surely informed about the Structuralist ideas of Team 10; if not directly then through their mentor Kenzo Tange, who attended the 1959 CIAM in Otterlo and underpinned his Tokyo Bay Plan (1960) with a structuralist analysis. This paper examines Metabolist writings, projects and built works and observes the transition of concepts from texts to drawings to buildings. It detects the disparities between Metabolists theory and practice, tests the claims of the Metabolists of a purely Japanese architecture and thus draws conclusions on the influence of Structuralism on Metabolism in theory and practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Title: Structuralism in Architecture & Urbanism RELOADED
Organising Body: Munich University of Applied Arts
Uncontrolled Keywords: Structuralism; Metabolists
Research Area: Architecture and the built environment
History of art, architecture and design
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture
Depositing User: Ersi Ioannidou
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 11:51
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2016 11:51
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/36525

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