Synopses & Reviews
By Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist
Having wandered the ruins of Hiroshima, Tokyo and other Japanese cities after WW II, The Metabolists – four architects, a critic, an industrial designer and a graphic designer – showed with the launch of their manifesto Metabolism 1960 how they would employ biological systems (aided by Japan's massive advances in technology) as inspiration for buildings and cities that could change and adapt to the vicissitudes of modern life. Units could be added or removed from buildings like Kisho Kurokawa’s Capsule Tower in Tokyo as required; buildings themselves could be added or removed from cities at will in the cell-like master-plans of Fumihiko Maki.
Project Japan features a series of vivid, empathetic conversations, replete with surprising connections and occasional clashes between Koolhaas and Obrist and their subjects. The story that unfolds is illuminated, contradicted and validated by commentaries from a broad range their forebearers, associates, critics, and progeny, including Toyo Ito and Charles Jencks.
Interspersed with the interviews and commentary are hundreds of never-before-seen images: master-plans from Manchuria to Tokyo, intimate snapshots of the Metabolists at work and play, architectural models, magazine excerpts and astonishing sci-fi urban visions. Presented in a clear chronology from the tabula rasa of a colonized Manchuria in the 1930s; a devastated Japan after the war; to the establishment of Metabolism at the 1960 World Design Conference; to the rise of Kisho Kurokawa as the first celebrity architect; to the apotheosis of the movement at Expo '70 in Osaka.
Koolhaas and Obrist unearth a history that casts new light on the key issues that both enervate and motivate architecture today: celebrity and seriousness, sustainability and monumentality, globalization, government participation (and abdication), and the necessity for architecture to reach beyond its traditional boundaries in order to embrace the future.
""Content is a follow-up to SMLXL, an inventory of seven years of OMA's tireless labor. In many ways it is structured according to what its predecessor is not--dense, cheap, disposable....""
This book takes place at the cusp of the 20th and 21st centuries, in the pre- and post-September 11th world. It is a singular product of its time, packed full of words and images portraying the architectural projects and metaphysical mechanics that have defined Rem Koolhas's OMA-AMO firm over the past seven years. In the format of a small, thick magazine, this "book" is more of an anti-book, an informal tribute the ephemeral world we inhabit. Focusing on the theme "Go East," this visual journey follows OMA-AMO from San Francisco to Tokyo, traversing our massive and turbulent planet in search of "an opportunity to realize the visions that make remaining at home torturous."
An aggressive, political sequel to 'SMLXL'.
About the Author
About the editor and Author -
Rem Koolhaas is a co-founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Having worked as a journalist and script writer before becoming an architect, in 1978 he published Delirious New York, a retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA and established connections of contemporary society and architecture. Amongst many international awards and exhibitions he received the Pritzker Prize (2000) and the Praemium Imperiale (2003).
About the Author -
Hans Ulrich Obrist (born 1968) is a curator, critic and historian. He is currently Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Obrist is the author of The Interview Project, an extensive ongoing project of interviews.