Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007) was one of the most radical and productive thinkers in recent Japanese architecture. For almost forty years his never ending stream of written, drawn and built ideas, all evolving around his ‘Philosophy of Symbiosis’, has pointed the direction for our future globalized society.
The Metabolist Movement
The young Kisho Kurokawa was among the founders of the Metabolist avant-garde movement in 1960, rebelling against the influence of Western and Modernist ideals that had dominated Japanese architecture since the opening of Japanese borders back in 1868. The Metabolists campaigned for an architecture based on traditional Eastern thinking, and their pet hate was the Western habit of thinking in opposing pairs, such as inside/outside, humanity/technology, countryside/urbanity. Instead, they wished to introduce a contemporary version of good old holistic thinking, synthesizing ideas of nature and technology in a dynamic model fit for an urban life in constant change.
Through the sixties, Kurokawa proposed a range of radical models counting the Agricultural City (1960) and the Floating City (1962). To some extent, he actually managed to transform his futurist dreams into solid built form: The Yamagata Hawaii Dreamland (later demolished) in 1967 and the iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower in 1972.
The Philosophy of Symbiosis
Metabolist ideas influenced Kurokawas work throughout his career, and in 1987 he first published his groundbreaking text Philosophy of Symbiosis. The comprehensive literary work explains how an increasingly globalized world will turn from an Age of the machine, introduced with the influence of Descartes (1596-1650), to a dawning Age of life based on holistic thinking – not far from today’s discussions about how to create sustainable solutions for a globalized society.
Kisho Kurokawa has completed a vast number of large scale buildings such as museums and stadiums and published several written works, but it is especially his status as a philosopher of contemporary architecture that has made him famous across the world. During his long active career Kurokawa received many awards, including prizes for specific buildings and books as well as honorary memberships of diverse architectural associations. He will forever stand as one of the great thinkers of architecture.
Visit Kisho Kurokawa’s website here.