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Metabolism Architecture

Captured at the dead of night, Australian photographer Tom Blachford’s latest series “Nihon Noir” captures Tokyo’s metabolist buildings.

The futuristic appearance of the country’s post-war modernist architecture movement, metabolism was pioneered by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. As described by Noboru Kawazoe: “the unifying concept behind the diverse works the Metabolists are about… a form of adaptation to the absence of tabula rasa, or even basic stability and available space in Japan; if there is no ground to build on, Metabolism will adapt and build its own ground.”

Kawazoe in Metabolism 1960 went further to describe the architecture form: “Metabolism” is the name of the group, in which each member proposes future designs of our coming world through his concrete designs and illustrations. We regard human society as a vital process – a continuous development from atom to nebula. The reason why we use such a biological word, metabolism, is that, we believe, design and technology should be a denotation of human vitality. We are not going to accept the metabolism as a natural historical process, but we are trying to encourage active metabolic development of our society through our proposals.

What draws me to this movement and to this particular style and philosophy is that it takes into consideration the existing format of the urban landscape. It doesn’t attempt to bulldoze new forms but work, build and grow with the current situation of the city. Sometimes, it is refreshing to look at movements of the past to re-imagine and co-create the trends of the future. And in some cases, remember why we design and who we are ultimately designing for.


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