Kisho Kurokawa

Kisho-Kurakawa.jpgImage © Kisho Kurokawa

By Lise Laurberg

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.

The National Art Center by Kisho Kurokawa in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: arcspace
November 13, 2006 /

The National Art Center
Kisho Kurokawa
Tokyo, Japan

The National Art Center, Japan's largest exhibition facility, connects with the Roppongi downtown as an extension of the street. As the trees surrounding the building grow the atrium will become a forested public space.

Photo: arcspace
Kisho Kurokawa - Nakagin Capsule Tower - Exterior
January 02, 2006 /

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Kisho Kurokawa
Tokyo, Japan

The Nakagin Capsule Tower was the first capsule architecture design, the capsule as a room inserted into a mega-structure, built for actual use. The Capsule Tower realizes the ideas of metabolism, exchangeability, recycleablity as the prototype of sustainable architecture.

Technopolis by Kisho Kurokawa in One-North, Singapore. Image courtesy Kisho Kurokawa & Associates
November 25, 2002 /

Kisho Kurokawa
One-North, Singapore

The 123,000 square meter building, internally referred to as "Technopolis", will be the first major development in the Central Exchange - the cluster for the Infocommunications & Media (ICM) industries in One-North.

Photo courtesy Kisho Kurokawa & Associates
February 11, 2002 /

Toyota Stadium
Kisho Kurokawa
Toyota, Japan

The Toyota Stadium was planned adjacent to the Toyota Bridge in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of municipalization of the City of Toyota.

Photo: Koji Kobayashi
Kisho Kurokawa - Big Eye Stadium - Exterior
October 26, 2001 /

Big Eye Stadium
Kisho Kurokawa
Oita City, Japan

The gentle curves of the spherical design resemble the curves of the surrounding landscape. The choice of a sphere, an expression of abstract symbolism, enables the retractable roof to move along its surface.

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