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Old Posted Feb 7, 2012, 6:11 PM
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Out There | Metabolic Pathways

Out There | Metabolic Pathways


February 3, 2012

By KEVIN MCGARRY

Read More: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2...lanning&st=cse

Quote:
In late 20th-century Japan, tradition and radical innovation co-habitated perhaps more closely than ever before. Budget travelers took advantage, checking into capsule hotels where accommodations were more like stacked drawers (albeit expertly-designed drawers) than rooms. But these subcompact dwellings, like the Nakagin Capsule Tower, built in Tokyo in 1971 by Kisho Kurokawa, are more than just design oddities: they are manifestations of utopian urban planning theories hatched a decade earlier, when a generation of Japanese architects sought to brand their ultramodern solutions to problems such as overpopulation and the limitations of the aquatic frontier. After discarding several Japanese concepts that translated along the lines of “replacing old with new,” “eternal return” or “constant change,” they settled on an international term (well, an English one) and called their practice “Metabolism.”

“Metabolism, the City of the Future: Dreams and Visions of Reconstruction in Postwar and Present-Day Japan” (September 17, 2011 – January 15, 2012) was a sprawling introduction to the Metabolism architecture movement of the 1960s and ’70s. It was the first exhibition organized at the Mori Art Museum (one of Tokyo’s two most prominent contemporary art institutions) since the March 2011 disaster, and as such illustrated an avant-garde yet pervasive facet of the country’s long history of building and rebuilding. The Metabolism Group was founded in 1960 (some of its members are still at work today) on the belief that architecture should emulate organic life and allow for continual growth and change. Sustainability and scale were paramount and they channeled these values not through a lens of austerity but of sci-fi dreams.

The Mori Art Museum’s own architectural circumstances are a unique product of adaptive compartmentalization. It’s located on the 53rd floor of the Mori Arts Tower, one of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers and the nucleus of Roppongi Hills, a high-end retail and culture sector built in 2003 in an effort to gentrify the nominally seedy night-life district of Roppongi. The galleries sit atop millions of square feet of office space — where businesses like Google Japan, Goldman Sachs and the Pokemon Company have headquarters — and an enveloping mall below. Above is an observation deck with panoramic views of the city, and a petite ice-skating rink lit by a heart-shaped mirror ball. The museum is ensconced in a complex unmistakably informed by the theories of capitalism rather than those of Metabolism; still, this setting speaks to matters of symbiosis and scale, with such a huge show tucked away on one floor of a tower, and dwarfed by the commerce surrounding it.

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