Project Japan: Metabolism Talks...Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist
AuthorsKayoko Ota and James Westcott
GRANTEERem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist & Kayoko Ota
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
In 2005, architect Rem Koolhaas and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist began interviewing the surviving members of maybe the last avant-garde movement to have a major influence in the intellectual and architectural building of a nation: Metabolism. Project Japan: Metabolism Talks..., five years in the making, tells the story of that movement as much through the people who participated in it as through the (many) buildings they constructed. Project Japan presents a polyphony of voices, telling the story of Metabolism with unprecedented depth. The interview chapters feature vivid conversations, full of surprising connections and occasional clashes between Koolhaas and Obrist and their subjects, who often think very differently than them. The story that unfolds is illuminated, complicated, contradicted, and validated by the simultaneous commentary in the margin from a broad range the Metabolists' forebears, associates, critics, and progeny, including Toyo Ito, Sachio Otani, Koji Kamiya, and Shuhei Aida.
Architect and urban planner Rem Koolhaas founded OMA in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis, and Madelon Vriesendorp. He was a journalist and scriptwriter before studying architecture at the AA School of Architecture and cofounding OMA in 1975. Koolhaas's books Delirious New York (1978) and S, M, L, XL (1995) have become standard readings worldwide on contemporary city, architecture, and culture. The comprehensive research at Harvard Graduate School of Design on the urban transformation of China's Pearl River Delta, Great Leap Forward, and his own investigations into the making of the city-state of Singapore in "Singapore Songlines" or the city of Atlanta in "Atlanta" (S, M , L , XL) are other examples of his endeavor: learning from the facts of modernization and redefining our notion of what a city is today.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is codirector of exhibitions and programs, and director of international projects at Serpentine Gallery, London. In 1993, he founded the Museum Robert Walser and began to run the Migrateurs Program at the Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, where he served from 1998 to 2006 as curator for contemporary art, and where he cocurated the monographic exhibitions on Olafur Eliasson, Philippe Parrreno, Jonas Mekas, Yoko Ono, Anri Sala, Doug Aitken, and other contemporary artists. Whilst curating numerous international exhibitions, Obrist has been actively conducting interviews, some of which were collected in Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews (2003) or held in public as Interview Marathons. Since 2001, Obrist and Rem Koolhaas have been interviewing outstanding architects of the twentieth century, including Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, O. M. Ungers, Christopher Alexander, and the Metabolist architects in Japan.
Kayoko Ota is curator and editor at AMO, the counterpart to OMA's architectural practice. AMO is a design and research studio based in the company's Rotterdam office. In 2006–07 she was artist in residence at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where she directed research and discussions on Japanese architecture in the 1960s and '70s. During the same period she coedited and contributed as a researcher for Al Manakh, a book of comprehensive historical, political, economic, and cultural surveys of the Gulf cities. She coedited Post-Occupancy (2006), a multi-angled analysis of architectural works after occupancy. Ota collaborated with several architectural historians or critics on historical analysis or cultural researches as vice editor of Domus (2005–07). She also planned and edited the book Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse (2007), and was an independent editor based in Tokyo before moving to Rotterdam in 2002.
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