japanese pavilion at venice biennale 2010 japanese pavilion at venice biennale 2010
sep 14, 2010

japanese pavilion at venice biennale 2010

‘tokyo metabolizing’, the official japan pavilion at the 12th international architecture biennale in venice, italy image © designboom

‘tokyo metabolizing’, japan’s national pavilion for this year’s venice architecture biennale, investigates architectural metabolism in the context of tokyo and its urban make-up. introduced 50 years ago, the concept of ‘metabolizing’ was the first influential manifesto regarding the city that was ever transmitted from japan to the world. it called for the replacement of a city’s functional components as if it were a collective machine. the exhibition looks at the ways in which tokyo has transformed and evolved through this concept.

scaled model of ‘moriyama house’ by ryue nishizawa image © designboom

looking back on architecture’s history, the exhibition outlines the overriding designing factor of cities worldwide: in mid-19th century paris, the imperial rule of napoleon III facilitated a grand urban space that was single-handedly created based on one’s will; in early 20th century, new york saw the rise of powerful capitalists which resulted in a number of skyscrapers defining the city space.

tokyo in the 21st century is introducing a new urban landscape being born out of the current political and economical climate. the city has been subdivided into smaller and smaller plots of land among approximately 1.8 million owners. buildings are constantly going through a state of alteration and transformation, corresponding to the owner’s life cycle. contrary to european cities where urban space is considered to be more or less a permanent structure, tokyo has embraced change and the notion a city which exists only as phantom entities.

a video of the exhibited film

an exhibited video illustrates this constant change in a zoomed out, macrocosmic bird’s eye view on tokyo. buildings are seen to constantly evolve at an accelerated pace, transforming the city into a living organism going through an almost bacterial effect of transformation.

‘moriyama house’ with projected film in the background image © designboom

two scaled models which demonstrate these theories dominate the rest of the exhibition space: ‘moriyama house’ by SANAA’s ryue nishizawa, a collection of white cubic volumes which are located in an older section of tokyo. the structures are independent from one another save for a garden way which links the surrounding areas. the owner has great freedom with the house, living in one and renting the rest which results in a small community in the middle of the city.

interior shot of the ‘moriyama house’ model image © designboom

interior views images © designboom

a scaled model of ‘atelier bow-wow’ by yoshiharu tsukamoto and momoyo kaijima image © designboom

the second model is of ‘atelier bow-wow’ by yoshiharu tsukamoto and momoyo kaijima. located in a crowded section of low-rise residences, the 4 level dwelling redefines the gap by producing an overall sense of openness: walls of adjacent houses function as ‘borrowed walls, expanding the interior to the spaces in between the city. opportunities to dwell outside the house is increased through the creation of semi-external spaces. the lower level of the house is translated to the outside of the japanese pavilion, where viewers can duck under the ‘house frame’ to peak into the basement office space.

dining room image © designboom

(left) exterior (right) looking in images © designboom

looking into the upper level image © designboom

split levels image © designboom

(left) the model outside of the exhibition space, lower level of ‘atelier bow-wow’ (right) views of the office on the lower level images © designboom

video of exhibition produced by wow inc. tokyo

full credit:

commissioner: koh kitayama exhibitors: yoshiharu tsukamoto, ryue nishizawa assistant commissioners: atsuko sato, marie suzuki project management: hiroko hasama overall design: architecture workshop (koh kitayama, nao norohashi) construction: harmoge srl graphic design: nakajima design (hideki nakajima, tetsuro furutani) translation: christopher stephens local coordinator: harumi muto organizer: japan foundation with special assistance from tokyo metropolitan government

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    architecture news