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“Any ranking system of contemporary architects would have to put Kurokawa near the top of the global ranking superleague.” It is what Peter Wislocki though of Kurokawa as a contemporary architect. Kisho Kurokawa’s buildings explores the notion of engawa, the “in between space” where public realm and private space co-exist in harmony. “I consider architecture to be an expression of philosophy… Therefore an architect must be a philosopher who discerns the spirit of the age.” Kisho Kurokawa also developed his own philosophy for architecture and published his own books. The Nakagin Capsule Tower, one of his early works, and the Nara City Museum of Photography were two of his many great works which were outstanding.


Kisho Kurokawa was born in Aichi Prefecture, Japan 14. He graduated from Kyoto University for the Bachelor of Architecture in 157; he then studied at Graduate School of Tokyo University for the Master of Architecture under Kenzo Tange, also a great Japanese architect; then he finally receives his Doctorate in Architecture in Tokyo University in 164. There is no doubt that his early interests in industrialised modernism were greatly influenced by Kenzo Tange. In his early career, he rejected the conventional Modernism and a Western obsession with mechanical analogy. Not only is he “Japan’s most eminent architect” , but also a philosopher and a publisher. Kisho Kurokawa became a famous architect in his mid 0s in the year 160 as a co-founder of the Metabolism Movement. His philosophy of symbiosis has established him as one of the world’s leading thinkers on architecture. His architectural activities now extend from Japan to the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Not only does he design museums, and he also designs universities, government and commercial buildings, factories, towns and cities and football stadiums as well. He is currently the advisor of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the President of the Japan society of Landscape Design, and he is also the President of Kisho Kurokawa architect and associate (KKAA). Kisho Kurokawa is in tune with the continually shifting zeitgeist and interprets it is his own unique way. He has put into his architecture the elements of growth and change. He considers architecture as part of the space opened to society rather than a work of art. Some of his publications are “Creating Contemporary Architecture”, “Philosophy of Symbiosis”, and “Metabolism to Symbiosis”. Other of his major architectural works includes Toyota Stadium, Oita Stadium, the New Wing of the Van Gogh Museum, and Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. However, his early work, Nakagin Capsule Tower (17), and the Nara City Museum of Photography were the most attractive.


Kisho Kurokawa contributed to the “art world” by introducing the Metabolism Movement for architecture as well as his theory on Symbiosis for architecture. Metabolism is a movement which anticipates many of today’s concerns with buildings intelligence, responsive environments and design for change. The Metabolism group includes the Japanese architects Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki, and Masato Otaka along with a graphic designer Kiyoshi Awazu issued a manifesto describing their conception of megastructural urbanism which they called Metabolism. “The reason why we use the biological word metabolism is that we believe design and technology should denote human vitality.” Kurokawa explains here why they decided to pick metabolism as the word for their movement. Metabolism was predicated on the belief that human societies could be modeled in natural terms and that design could arbitrate the intersection of technological and biological processes. Not only was Kisho Kurokawa a co-founder of the Metabolism Movement, he also came up with the philosophy of symbiosis. A great conceptual revolution is underway across the world quietly; it is unarguably changing the way of living and our idea of what it is to be human. This great, invisible change Kisho Kurokawa identifies it as the philosophy of symbiosis. In 15, Kisho Kurokawa puts a new architectural paradigm which envisaged cities and architecture as organisms capable of growth and change.


One of his earlier works which is the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the world’s first capsule architecture built for actual use. It was build between 170 and 17 with steel and reinforced concrete. It contains one basement floor and 11 and 1 floors. The building area is 4.51m² and the total floor area is ,07.m². It is built in Ginza, one of the busiest areas in Tokyo. It was design to provide sleeping arrangements to a large number of commuting workers on an extremely small site. Not only could it accommodate workers, but it could also accommodate the individual as either an apartment or studio space, and by connecting the capsule together, it could accommodate a family. Each capsule is directly connected to the central core tower that would provide support and internal movement from ground to capsule. Unlike Habitat, the capsule will “hang” from the core rather than being supported by the capsule beneath it. Capsule architecture design, establishment of the capsule as room and insertion of the capsule into a mega-structure, expresses its contemporaneousness with other works of unconventional architecture from the later 160s. Kurokawa developed the technology to install the capsules into the concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, as well as making the capsules removable and replaceable. One advantage of this system is that if more people are in need of the service of the capsule, then more capsules will be added. Another aspect of the tower is its understanding of its modular parts There are the capsules, and there is the central core tower. The capsules are like pockets, used privately by different people, and that it is necessary that people entering the tower enter for the purpose of arriving at one of the capsules. The central core tower makes up the central movement space, used publicly by all the inhabitants. It is not the purpose of the tower, but it is used by everyone and must be in place before the capsules themselves can be placed, opened and used. Each capsule contains appliances and furniture, from audio to telephones. The elements of design used in this building includes lines as the capsule forms them, connecting each other together; shape, as all the capsule are squares and the windows are circle; the forms for this building is made of cubes; but there are hardly any use of colours, it is basically greyish colour throughout the whole building. Some of the principles of design used symmetrical since all the capsule units are made of cubes; and pattern is run throughout the whole building where the capsule units repeats itself around the central core. The Nakagin Capsule Tower realizes the ideas of metabolism, exchangeability, recyclable as the prototype of suspenseful architecture.


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Nara City Museum of Photography was built between the years 18 to 11. Its materials are reinforced concrete (basements) and steel structure. The Nara City Museum of Photography was built to house the negatives of images and a personal collection of work received as a gift from the late photographer Yasukichi Irie, who captures the town and Buddhist images on film throughout his lifetime. Although there are many different buildings surround the museum such as Shinyakushiji Temple and Nara University, the area still remains resplendent for it retains the characteristic of Nara landscape and atmosphere. The museum was nearly built underground and on top of this underground art museum, a roof that looked “as if it was suspended from the heavens” was built with one other level. There were only the entrance hall and a tea room on the first level and the walls around it was made of glass, it emphasizes the feeling of lightness and transparency. From the outside, the room would look as if it was floating since only the roof was visible. Since the space that Kisho Kurokawa has to work with is very close to the temple which was titled National Treasure and by law, if any structure was to be built in areas adjacent to local historical structure, the building must use the similar roofing tiles to those of Nara Period. For the roofing of the Nara City Museum of Photography, they would employ titles similar to the Nara Period and on the underside they would use metallic plating to incorporate a modern design to resemble an airplane wing. For the curve part of the roof, although titles similar to the Nara Period were used as a reference, they also worked with the modern crossoid curve. Some of the principles of design used are emphasis, since the glass wall emphasize the lightness and transparency of the building; and movement, when it is viewed from the outside, the building seem like it is floating in the air, since the roof was the only think visible. The Nara City Museum of Photography was given the Japan Art Academy’s Prize because of it harmonic relationship to the historic surroundings.


Since the beginning of Kisho Kurokawa’s career, his career has blossomed to become one of Japan’s leading architects of today. He applied the metabolism into his architecture, which makes the private space and public realm co-exist in harmony, where his works blends into its surroundings. Being one of the co-founders of the Metabolism Movement and developing the philosophy of symbiosis also establish where he is today.


“Kisho Kurokawa Metabolism + Recent Work.” Online. Available http//www.cube.org.uk/exhibitions/past0.htm, March 00, par. .


Kisho Kurokawa Metabolism + Recent Work par. 4


“Biography- Kisho Kurokawa.” Online. Available http//www.glenfiddich.com/mediacentre/pdfs/biog_kk.pdf, 0 March 00, par.1.


Doordan, Dennis, Twentieth � Century Architecture (New York Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 00) 15


Huang, Christopher. “Nakagin Capsule Tower.” Precedents. Online. Available http//www.arch.mcgill.ca/prof/mellin/arch671/winter001/xhuang/drm/prec.htm, 4 March 00, par. 1.


“Nara City Museum of Photography” Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates. Online. Available http//www.kisho.co.jp/WorksAndProjects/Works/nara/index.html, 4 March 00, par. 6.


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