1st Edition

The Urbanism of Metabolism Visions, Scenarios and Models for the Mutant City of Tomorrow

Edited By Raffaele Pernice Copyright 2022
    242 Pages 97 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 97 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited book explores and promotes reflection on how the lessons of Metabolism experience can inform current debate on city making and future practice in architectural design and urban planning. More than sixty years after the Metabolist manifesto was published, the author’s original contributions highlight the persistent links between present and past that can help to re-imagine new urban futures as well as the design of innovative intra-urban relationships and spaces.

    The essays are written by experienced scholars and renowned academics from Japan, Australia, Europe, South Korea and the United States and expose Metabolism’s special merits in promoting new urban models and evaluate the current legacy of its architectural projects and urban design lessons. They offer a critical, intellectual, and up-to-date account of the Metabolism projects and ideas with regard to the current evolution of architectural and urbanism discourse in a global context.

    The collection of cross-disciplinary contributions in this volume will be of great interest to architects, architectural and urban historians, as well as academics, scholars and students in built environment disciplines and Japanese cultural studies.

    List of Contributors


    Foreword: The Logic of Metabolism

    Toyo Ito


    Raffaele Pernice

    1. Back from Behind the Curtain of Oblivion: Metabolism and the Postwar Actuality of Japan

    Hajime Yatsuka

    2. The Aesthetics and/or Formalism of Change: Paradoxes and Contradictions in the Metabolist Movement

    Botond Bognar

    3. Engineering a Poetic Techno-urbanism: The Metabolists’ Visionary City in Postwar Japan

    Raffaele Pernice

    4. The Metabolists in Context

    Jon Lang

    5. The Infrastructure of Care: Metabolist Architecture as a Social Catalyst

    Peter Šenk

    6. "Sunday Carpenter" Metabolism: Artificial-Land Housing and Resident Decision-Making

    Casey Mack

    7. Maki and Dutch Team X: Step towards Group Form

    Kiwa Matsushita

    8. Kikutake Kiyonori circa 2011: Sustaining Life through Metabolism

    Ken Tadashi Oshima

    9. Metabolism as Survival Architecture

    Hyunjung Cho

    10. Metabolism Adventure: A Personal View

    Philip Drew

    11. This is Your City: The Pop Future Foretold by Metabolism

    Yasutaka Tsuji

    12. Spaceship Earth: Metabolist Capsules, the Petro-economy, and Geoengineering

    Yuriko Furuhata

    13. An Eternal Return? Considering the Temporality and Historicity of Metabolism

    Julian Worrall


    Gevork Hartoonian


    Raffaele Pernice is an Italian architect and Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He holds a Ph.D. in Architecture from Waseda University in Tokyo and a M.Arch. from the University IUAV of Venice in Italy. He has extensive research and teaching experience in Australia, East Asia, and the Middle East, and his interests and activities lie at the nexus of architecture and urbanism, ranging from design practice through to the theory and history of architecture and city planning, with a focus on the evolution of the cities of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. He has been the recipient of scholarships and grants from universities and national and international institutions, such as the Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japan Foundation, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

    "Rising from the ashes of the Pacific War, a new generation of Japanese architects sought radical new ways to solve the challenges of social change and material destitution in their devastated cities. In fusing native tradition and radical modernity, they created a movement which was to influence the architecture of the twentieth century. Through a compilation of scholarly essays and personal narratives this valuable English language collection provides a cohesive evaluation of the Metabolist movement in both its domestic and international contexts. It is a comprehensive reference for both the professional and the general reader." Peter Armstrong (University of Sydney) studied under Yosizaka Takamasa and worked for Kiyonori Kikutake from 1969 to 1973

    "What can we learn today from the radical visions and thinking of Japanese Metabolism of the 1960s? In this indispensable book, the best international scholars critically interpret Metabolism as an avant-garde movement, at the same time deeply anchored in the Japanese reality and a transnational phenomenon with great critical success, but also as a symptom of a condition of environmental and urban crisis to which architects must respond as a priority commitment: today as yesterday." Pierre Alain Croset, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU), Politecnico di Milano, Italy

    "Among the merits of this publication, there is the effort to present a fresh and broader new look at Metabolism by means of a series of contributions by high-calibre experts in disciplines which do not belong only to architecture. For everyone interested in Japan, this book is full of useful insights to understand modern Japanese history from the point of view of urbanism and architectural forms." Masaki KoiwaDepartment of Architecture, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan

    "This book, edited by Dr. Raffaele Pernice, has as obvious feature in that the authors are all independent writers, and someone experienced the Metabolist movement in Japan in the 1960s. The scholars explore pioneering issues related to climate change and social identity worldwide which were affected by Metabolism. Besides, this book is also an engaging incipient index of Japanese modern architectural masters and their practices." Xiaoming Zhu, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

    "A much-needed rediscovery of a significant cultural and design movement that still influences the development of global cities. The book sheds light from multiple perspectives on what Manfredo Tafuri defined as an ‘academy of the utopian’: a group of visionaries that, with their bold proposals, introduced in the global debate ideas that are still relevant today, tracing clear paths for the further developments of design disciplines." Benno Albrecht, Rector Università IUAV di Venezia, Italy