Project Japan: Metabolism Talks... Paperback – Oct 28 2011
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About the Author
Rem Koolhaas is a co-founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Having worked as a journalist and script writer before becoming an architect, in 1978 he published Delirious New York. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA and established connections of contemporary society and architecture. Amongst many international awards and exhibitions he received the Pritzker Prize (2000) and the Praemium Imperiale (2003).
Hans Ulrich Obrist is the co-director of exhibitions and programmes and director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London.
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This book is neccessary for architects right now: The thorough archiving and indexing of an avant-garde movement reminds us that architects once fearlessly and courageously embraced the transformational qualities of architecture. It really makes you lament the absence of such a strong contemporary agenda to react to-I can't imagine all those pritzker prize winners actually consolidating their respective intelligence into a cohesive idea like the metabolists did.
It's a massive and dense volume though-I havent been able to finish it yet. It is very well illustrated and is bound to provide inspiration, almost too dense to go through all at once.
Of course, a movement like this could have only been spawned in Japan, which was looking for new ways to deal with the post-war housing shortage. Kenzo Tange was the godfather of the movement, and would have a major impact on international architectural design. The movement also gave us Arata Isozaki and Fumihiko Maki, among other leading architects. While the designs looked very futuristic at the time, they were based on traditional planning principles. I would have liked to see a bigger format like Taschen has done on other topics, but the wealth of material will reward those interested in Metabolism.
As a designer I can relate to the metabolist's desire for architecture to play a role in solving the many complex problems in a rapidly changing world. Only by working together to advance the architecture profession in Japan were they able to achieve some level of success. With the focus today so much on the individuality of each famous designer, it is refreshing to read about this not-so-distant movement that happened because of a group of individuals working toward a common way of thinking. I have not come across any other books that describe the process of a movement taking shape quite like this book does. It goes to great lengths to provide as many viewpoints as possible from the people who were there when it happened. It is an architecture book that is also about how these architects interacted with their world to promote their vision.
It feels like a large amount of respect and care went into the making of this book. Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist clearly knew that the metabolist movement in architecture has tremendous historical importance and a serious lack of recorded historical documentation. They did a wonderful job compiling and presenting all the information in this book!