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Book Launch & RoundTable: The Urbanism of Metabolism:
Visions, Scenarios and Models for the Mutant City of Tomorrow

Presented by Dr Raffaele Pernice

May 18, 2023

More than sixty years after the Metabolist Group manifesto was published in Tokyo in 1960, what legacy remains of the bold visions and radical architectural forms promoted by this group of young Japanese architects and designers? How their urban architectures inspired by concepts like regeneration, endless change and constant impermanence, progressive adaptability, sustainability and resilience, to quote a few, can inspire a new urban thinking in a time of environmental emergency and urban crisis? The various contributions in this edited book critically explores and promotes reflections on Metabolism’s still relevant design lessons. They intend to highlight the persistent links between present and past that can help to re-imagine new urban futures as well as the design of innovative intra-urban relationships and spaces.

Raffaele Pernice is an Italian architect and Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney). His research interests focus on architectural and urban history, the relationship between architecture and the city design, and the urbanism of the Asia Pacific region and of Japan in particular.

This event intends to present and discuss the edited book and will be in person and online. UNSW Lecturer Ms Shaowen Wang will introduce the editor and author, then they will take part in the discussion and conversation with Emeritus Professor Gevork Hartoonian of the University of Canberra, the Director of UNSW Cities Institute Professor Peter Poulet, and Professor Daniel Barber of the University Technology of Sydney.



Raffaele Pernice is an architect and Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia. He received a PhD in Architecture from Waseda University in Tokyo and a M.Arch from the University IUAV of Venice, Italy. Dr. Pernice’s research concentrates on modern and post-modern urban and architectural theories and history, with a focus on the contemporary urbanism of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. He has been recipient of several competitive international grants and fellowships from the Japan Foundation, the MEXT (the Japanese Ministry of Education), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), among others.


Gevork Hartoonian is Emeritus Professor of architectural history at the University of Canberra, Australia, and holds a Ph. D from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He has taught in American universities, including Pratt Institute and Columbia University, NYC. Hartoonian is most recently the author of Towards a Critique of Architecture’s Contemporaneity: 4 Essays (Routledge 2023), Reading Kenneth Frampton: A Commentary on Modern Architecture 1980 (Anthem Press 2022), and Time, History and Architecture: essays on critical historiography (Routledge 2020/2018). His previous publications include, among others, Architecture and Spectacle: a critique (Routledge, 2016/2012) and The Mental Life of the Architectural Historian (2013). The Korean and Thai edition of his Ontology of Construction (Cambridge University Press, 1994) was published in 2010 and 2017. Hartoonian’s forthcoming book is titled, The Visibility of Modernization in Architecture: A Debate (Routledge, Jun 2023).


Professor Peter Poulet is director of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Cities Institute, Australia. He is an architect with over 35 years of experience in the private, public and the university sector and a practicing and exhibiting visual artist. His professional background includes his current role as Central City District Commissioner for the Greater Cities Commission, delivering the NSW Government’s vision for Sydney’s future and his previous appointment as NSW Government Architect from 2012 to 2018.



Professor Daniel A. Barber is a historian and theorist focused on environmental dimensions of architecture’s past, present, and future. He is especially interested in how the pedagogy and practice of architecture are adapting to climate instability. He received his PhD in Architecture (History and Theory) from Columbia University, and a Master of Environmental Design (MED) from Yale University. He has held fellowships through the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, at the Princeton University High Meadows Environmental Institute, and at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, among others.


Shaowen Wang is a Lecturer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia as well as an active tutor at the University of Sydney and the University of Canberra in Design Studio and History & Theory courses between 2007 and 2018. She has tutored studios at all levels and led graduation studios and has developed course content and lectured for computational design theory (2015 to 2018) at UNSW. Before arriving in Australia, she had worked on medium and small scales projects: synagogues, private schools, mixed-use tall buildings, and houses in New York. She has been the studio convenor for the graduation studio at M. Arch level and for the first year of B. Arch since 2018.


About the book

The Urbanism of Metabolism: Visions, Scenarios and Models for the Mutant City of Tomorrow is an edited book which explores and promotes reflection on how the lessons of Metabolism experience can inform current debate on city making and future practice in architectural design and urban planning. More than sixty years after the Metabolist manifesto was published, the author’s original contributions highlight the persistent links between present and past that can help to re-imagine new urban futures as well as the design of innovative intra-urban relationships and spaces.
The essays are written by experienced scholars and renowned academics from Japan, Australia, Europe, South Korea and the United States and expose Metabolism’s special merits in promoting new urban models and evaluate the current legacy of its architectural projects and urban design lessons. They offer a critical, intellectual, and up-to-date account of the Metabolism projects and ideas with regard to the current evolution of architectural and urbanism discourse in a global context.

The research for the publication of the book was supported with a Japan Foundation Grant Program for Intellectual Change (Ref.No:10126897) and a Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Fellowship (Ref.No:10120253awarded in the period 2019-2020.


May 18, 2023 (Thursday)
6pm – 7:30pm AEST
Bookings not required

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008

Free; bookings not required


(02) 8239 0055

Header image: Making of City LIFE’s ‘Metabolic City’ by Jean-Marc Emy


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