“Dreamland cities in the air, floating villages and forest-like structures were all envisioned by the forward-thinking ‘Metabolic’ architects of the past:
How Japan’s visionaries saw the future
“From cities in the air to floating villages in the Bay of Tokyo, a group of forward-thinking Japanese architects, celebrated recently in the Pompidou’s Japan-Ness exhibition in Metz, France, showed how creatively some of the country’s finest architects approached ‘sprawling urbanism’ in Japan after 1945.”
“According to the architect Arata Isozaki, Japanese architecture sets itself apart by the immutability of certain values and by an identity that architects have constantly reinterpreted over the centuries.
He characterises this distinctiveness, the common theme of the exhibition, with the expression “Japan-ness”.
Visitors are immersed in an organic city designed by Sou Fujimoto and move through the cyclical history of Japanese architecture, from the destruction of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, to its most recent expressions.
Following a chronological path, from 1945 to the present day, the exhibition is divided into six periods:
– Destruction and rebirth (1945);
– Cities and land (1945-1955);
– The emergence of Japanese architecture (1955- 1965);
– Metabolism, Osaka 1970 and the « new vision » (1965-1975);
– The disappearance of architecture (1975 -1995);
– Overexposed architecture, images and narratives (1995 to the present day).
From the 1950s, a new vision of the city and land took shape influenced by Le Corbusier’s international modernist architecture in particular.
With Arata Isozaki and Kenzo Tange, a new Japanese architecture marked by the use of concrete emerged between 1955 and 1965.
“The 1958 Marine City project by visionary architect Kiyonori Kikutake was one of the first major ideas of the Metabolism movement, promoting the concept of a floating metropolis in the ocean.”
The Osaka universal exposition in 1970 signalled a decisive turning point with the emergence of trends such as “Metabolism” and “New Vision”, represented by Kisho Kurokawa, Yutaka Murata and Kazumasa Yamashita, who used innovative materials, forms and technologies.
“Another project that helped Japanese architects create a showcase for innovation in architecture was the Joint Core System (or City in the Air) which was developed in 1960 by Arata Isozaki. His plan included a multi-layered city with highways and parking structures woven between compounds of offices and apartments. In the original sketches, these structures look like trees, growing side by side. The branches function like passageways to living units, while the trunks act as large supports. This project is sometimes referred to as ‘Clusters in the Air,’ as the trees develop and create a forest-like structure.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, a generation of influential architects appeared on the international scene. Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando, Shin Takamatsu, Itsuko Hasegawa and Kazuo Shinohara developed “disappearing architecture”, marked by the simplification of forms, the use of metal and experimentation with the indivdual home. The disaster of the Kobe earthquake in 1995 prompted reflection on emergency architecture.
For some years now, a new generation of architects, recognised with the most prestigious awards, has been working towards an architecture of transparency and a narrative architecture. Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, SANAA and even Sou Fujimoto now embody this drive.
The exhibition is based on Centre Pompidou collection, enriched with works and models from architects’ studios, designers, Japanese museums and private collections. This body of works, exhibited for the first time on this scale in Europe, provides a better understanding of the profusion and richness of Japanese architecture and urban design.
Frédéric Migayrou, Deputy Director of Centre Pompidou – National Museum of Modern Art, Paris, and Head Curator of the Architecture Department
Yuki Yoshikawa, Research and Exhibition Officer, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Associate Curator”
Until 8th January 2018
Locations : Grande Nef
Centre Pompidou-Metz opened in the Lorraine region of France in 2010 as a sister institution to Centre Pompidou (Paris). The Center was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, and French architect Jean de Gastines.