Tokyo | How the Metabolist Movement Helped Influence Modern Architecture
Even though the Metabolist movement was short-lived (around two decades), the ideal and vision it portrayed followed through the trajectory of modern architecture. The main idea of creating a city with infinite reserves and able to transform like an organism throughout the course of time and habitat, which aimed to tackle problems of mobility, density and tradition, still influenced modern architects and architecture.
There were of course setbacks where people criticised or discussed the relative “success” of the movement, for example the Nakagin Capsule Tower. Toyo Ito, who worked for Metabolist architect Kikutake for a while, remembered feeling disillusioned to see the Metabolist ideas for the city of the future becoming too concrete, especially with the 1970 Expo held in Osaka. Perhaps that coupled with the idea of the future stressed in Metabolism not dealing with the present too urgently, He turned away from Metabolism.
However, the influence on individual architectural projects is still visible. Capsule fiberglass hotel pods around Asia and Australia have become a popular phenomenon. Some can even argue that the recent rise of micro apartments in New York City, Boston, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong came from Metabolist ideas too, to build vertical small dwellings with better design and functionality fitted for densely populated cities with a high living standard. Around 10000 architects, designers, researchers and engineers gathered at the 24th World Congress of Architecture in 2010 to discuss Design 2050, where Metabolism ideals excited many participants.
Rem Koolhas, who is the mastermind behind many globally renowned architecture, reconstructed the history and evolution of Metabolism in the book “Project Japan: Metabolism Talks” along with Hans Ulrich Obrist. The book was released along with the Metabolist exhibition in Mori Art Museum in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. He is very fascinated about the vision Metabolism conveyed and even deemed it “the last movement that changed architecture.”