What Was Metabolism? Reflections on the Life of Kiyonori Kikutake

Toyo Ito’s comparison between Kiyonori Kikutake and Kenzo Tange’s projects reveals Kikutake’s unique position amongst his fellow Metabolist architects. While most Japanese architects in the 60’s were driven by the ideas of industrialization and universality focused around cities, Kikutake’s inspiration came from Japan’s ancient agricultural culture.

JA+U : What Was Metabolism? Reflections on the Life of Kiyonori Kikutake - lecture by Tokyo Ito © Shinkenchiku-sha

Hotel Tōkōen by Kiyonori Kikutake © Shinkenchiku-sha

The influence from Kikutake’s visionary philosophy on Ito’s work is still very evident, such as the Home for All in Rikuzentakata, which was presented at the Venice Biennale’s Architectural Exhibition in 2012.

JA+U : What Was Metabolism? Reflections on the Life of Kiyonori Kikutake - lecture by Tokyo Ito © Justin Knight

Photography of the exhibition courtesy of Justin Knight

Kikutake’s sensitivity to the context and nature contrast with the pervading architectural movement in 20th century, which believed that anything can be built anywhere. But in more recent times, especially after the 3.11 disaster in Japan, architects have started to realize that architecture cannot exist without its context.