Artificial Land in Japan 1954–2202
Edited with text by Casey Mack.
Toward a Flexible Dwelling
How can housing better meet people’s diverse and changing needs? Moving away from the focus on capsule architecture that dominates so many studies of Japan’s Metabolist architects, Digesting Metabolism investigates the impact on Japanese housing of Le Corbusier’s idea of “artificial land,” perhaps architecture’s most famous concept that the fewest number of people have heard of. Long buried by the term “megastructure” that it inspired, artificial land joins the individual and collective, envisioning housing as stacked platforms of plots for building freestanding homes of all variety.
This book explores in detail 11 Japanese projects that translate this dream of durability combined with flexibility into built reality, illuminating its appeal for a nation whose existing land—from both earthquakes and cost—is highly unstable. First introduced to Japan in 1954 by Le Corbusier’s protégé, Takamasa Yosizaka, artificial land is essential to the Metabolists who debuted in Tokyo in 1960, with it sparking their desire to add “a time factor into city planning.” Yet artificial land has had a hold on Japan’s metabolic imagination well beyond the ‘60s, promising domestic satisfaction and environmental resilience from the postwar period to today’s government policies. Digesting Metabolism uncovers this unique Japanese history and its possible future, finding examples of infrastructure, adaptation and dweller control that challenge commodified models of housing around the world.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
LIN Architects Urbanists; professor, TU Berlin
Casey Mack's exceptional Digesting Metabolism is a profound exploration…. Through his original and forward-looking research, Mack subtly forms a perspective on the movement that gives an engaged outlook to the future, a kind of learning from metabolism.
TU Delft and Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam
Dirk van den Heuvel
Casey Mack recharges the legacy of the world-famous avant-garde of the 1960s by revisiting actual built projects to document their post-occupancy life and inhabitants. His historical and ethnographical account is touching in its honest portrayal of success and failure, and is most inspiring and instructive for building towards more resilient and livable cities.
Architect; professor emeritus, Waseda University
An important work in foreseeing the relationship of tension between technology and art.
Senior Associate, Guy Nordenson and Associates; Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design
Brett H. Schneider
In this wonderfully refreshing work, Mack reconfigures the history of the Metabolists simply by moving the focus from megastructure to artificial land. In doing so, he eschews the easy slogan or image that infatuates so much of our design discourse for a more complex narrative of unfulfilled vectors – how the Metabolists addressed time, adaptability, flexibility. These vectors in turn identify that it is the world of the Metabolists in which we remain, and that it is these questions outside our comfortable control that as designers we must continue to grapple with.
Professor of Architecture, University of Tasmania
Dr. Julian Worrall
Part study of housing typologies; part history of modern Japan; and part disquisition on how architecture might reconcile the spatial with the temporal, this book is a tour-de-force of scholarship and analysis…. Casey Mack weaves a fascinating historical narrative around the notion of ‘artificial land,’ spun from the threads of architectural ambition, idiosyncratic activism, social transformation, bureaucratic planning, and everyday practice.
UPS GROUND IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.
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