Toward an architecture and urbanism of natural processes: analysis of the Metabolist Group
Stapenhorst, Michael Jean
Mitchell, O. Jack
Master of Architecture
The Metabolist Group of Japan -- Noboru Kawazoe, Kiyounori Kikutake, Noriaki Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki, and Kenzo Tange -- is evolving a theory of architecture and urbanism based upon the recognition that architectural and urban form, or built form, can be understood and ordered in accordance with natural processes. This theory seeks to accommodate growth and change as determining forces of form; to provide a meaningful and relevant human environment. Part One introduces the problems of growth, change, and provision of human space for the designer. The core of the problem is the disparity between architectural and urban form and the demands of contemporary physical and cultural forces, or determinants of form. One particular aspect of the problem is stated -- the necessity of looking at architectural and urban form as organic, of making the human environment responsive to the requirements of a dynamic reality. Finally, Part One suggests a possible answer: a design methodology which incorporates the use of natural processes, or systems, as an architectural technique. Part Two demonstrates that the Metabolist Group of Japan is evolving a theory of architecture and urbanism based upon the use of natural processes. It establishes who the Metabolists are by providing biographical studies, and in a brief historical description of salient cultural and architectural features of Japan suggests reasons for the formation of the Metabolist Group, and indicates its goals. Part Three analyzes specifically Kiyounori Kikutake's three step methodology -- Ka, Kata, and Katachi. This Metabolist methodology provides the framework for the accommodation of the problems of growth and change and human space in contemporary built form. Part Four discusses the degree to which the Metabolist Group has been successful in creating form responsive to a dynamic reality, and offers some conclusions about the significance of the Metabolists for the environmental design community at large.