Tokyo 1950s | Groundwork before Assembling the Movement

Obsessed with Japanese tradition and possible solutions for the future of their nation, Tange, Kurokawa and Maki were simultaneously inspired by the outside world. In 1950s, long before Metabolism began, they travelled the world out of curiosity and built the basis for their theories which were both archetypal (Maki’s Group Form) and futuristic (Tange’s seaborne infrastructure)

 

Tange

1951- After attending CIAM in the UK, Tange went on to travel around Italy and he was interested in the new scale of urban architecture and its relation to the human scale.

1956- He took two months to travel through China, the USSR, Egypt, and India, in which he was induced to experiment with more brutal forms.

1957- He travelled around Brazil and most likely visited Brasilia, the unprecedented utopian city.

1959- He taught at MIT for four months. During his stay in the United States, Tange was confronted with the modern American metropolis and was fascinated how elevated highways – still absent from Tokyo – formed an intrinsic part of the city and integrated urban communication spaces with architecture. He researched future systems of urban planning, which he developed and exploited in Plan for Tokyo 1960.

Kurokawa

1958- He travelled around the USSR and was impressed by the advanced prefabricated housing.

Maki

1959-60- Maki travelled around the world, visiting vernacular prototypes of human settlements, along with Le Corbusier’s work. From his travels, and in collaboration with Otaka, the Group Form theory emerged “I saw in those collective forms from the Mediterranean both an expression of regional culture and a body of wisdom accumulated over many years. Here, as nowhere else, I became aware of the existence of a historical and decisive relationship between cities and architecture. For those cultures, creating buildings and creating cities were one and the same thing.”

 

Teaching at MIT, Tange was “liberated from the daily chores” and could develop ideas on “growth and change” and “integrating urban communications spaces with architecture”. The result of his research at MIT was a proposal for a housing system accommodating 25, 000 people on the water of Boston Harbour for which the design reemerged a year later in his Plan for Tokyo 1960.

Tange's housing system for Boston Harbour, in which he tried to produce architecture that mediated between the human scale and the modern urban infrastructure scale © 1959, MIT
Tange’s housing system for Boston Harbour, in which he tried to produce architecture that mediated between the human scale and the modern urban infrastructure scale © 1959, MIT

Reference

Rem Koolhaas & Hans Ulrich Obrist (2011) Project Japan : Metabolism Talks. 1st Ed. Taschen

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