The reintroduction of Japanese metabolism to sustainable architecture

  • YEAR
    Trudelle, Alexander
    Zhang, Fan
    2020 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers
    Design Thinking and Innovation


The Metabolist movement of the 1960s ended with the start of the energy crisis and sustainable consciousness. Despite its failure, metabolism provides meaningful and valuable explorations and references for the future design practice. Japanese Metabolism focuses on buildings that can adapt to changes and be re-creatable, not dissimilar to sustainability concerned with the adaptation to future occupants. This paper adopts a theoretical research method and expert interviews to describe and analyse metabolism and sustainability, compares their similarities and discrepancies, and explores the possibilities and opportunities of combining these two different design thinking. Results show that notion of sustainable architecture mainly concerns with technical domains rather than contribute to the setup of a wholistic sustainable system. Metabolism architecture is inherently sustainable, and its biological metaphor and systemic thinking can help sustainable design thinking build a resilience culture should they be combined. This study also proposes specific design guidelines and strategies for implementing this combined design thinking in the practice.

Keywords: Sustainability; Japanese Metabolism; prefabrication; cultural resilience.


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