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Media Release

For Immediate Release | January 20, 2021

Talk Event
Mutant Urbanism in Japanese Architecture: Lessons from the Metabolist Movement

Time to revisit the legacy of one of Japan’s most iconic architectural movements

Marine cities. Floating cities. Resilient cities. These are just some of the concepts embraced by a charismatic group of young Japanese designers and architects known as the Metabolists, who rose to prominence in the 1960s with visionary projects and grandly avant-garde designs.

The Metabolists were active in Japan from 1958 to 1970, mentored by iconic architect Kenzō Tange, and included Kishō Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki and Kiyonori Kikutake among others. Of Metabolism’s many members, only Maki is alive today. The Metabolism school was formalised in 1960 with the publication of a manifesto titled METABOLISM/1960––Proposals for a New Urbanism, which was launched at the Tokyo World Design Conference. The movement reached its peak with the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, where striking pavilions and other structures designed by the Metabolists wowed a global audience.

The Japan Foundation, Sydney presents a talk introducing the work of the Metabolists by Dr Raffaele Pernice on February 16, 2021. It examines the merits and limitations of the urban architectural projects and planning schemes they developed in response to Japan’s rapid post-war urbanisation. It also reflects on the lessons and legacy of the Metabolist oeuvre, sixty years on from the manifesto’s release. Ultimately, it considers how the visions and ideas of this dynamic but fleeting movement might be reinterpreted and adapted to address the future needs of contemporary cities.

See here for more background on the Metabolist movement and comments from the speaker Dr Raffaele Pernice.

The lead image on this webpage is a 3D rendering of Kiyonori Kikutake’s unbuilt Marine City design, created by Antxon Canovas. Reproduced with permission (source).

Mutant Urbanism in Japanese Architecture: Lessons from the Metabolist Movement

February 16, 2021 (Tuesday)
6:30-7:30pm AEDT

Learn about the Japanese architectural movement Metabolism in a commemorative talk event celebrating 60 years since the publication of The Metabolist Manifesto.

Held at The Japan Foundation, Sydney and online.

About the Talk


Dr Raffaele Pernice is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism at the School of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney. He is a licensed architect whose qualifications include a PhD in Architecture from the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. Dr Pernice has spent significant time conducting research in Japan, most recently on a 2019 Japan Foundation Fellowship to explore the relationship between the Metabolists and the housing industry in post-war Japan.

Following this talk, Dr Pernice will extend his work on Metabolism by convening an international symposium at UNSW Sydney titled “Architectures for a Mutant City. 60 Years of Metabolism 1960-2020, and Beyond” on February 22-23, 2021, supported by The Japan Foundation.

  • Images on this webpage can be used for editorial purposes.
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Admission is free; booking required.
Book via the event page here.

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Anne Lee
(02) 8239 0055

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