The unlikely synchronicity between Italian radicalism and Japanese metabolism

Koyasan Guest House by Alphaville Architects, Wakayama, Japan, 2012
(Image credit: press)

A new exhibition addressing two architectural movements from the 1960s and 70s – the metabolists in Japan and the radicals in Italy – has opened at the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome. Organised by Fondazione Italia Giappone, a group promoting and strengthening the nations’ 150-year diplomatic relationship, ‘Invisible Architecture’ compares building design in Italy and Japan at the dawn of the two conceptual movements, then surveys contemporary work from both countries.

Having sprung up amid political revolution following decades of war, metabolism and radicalism share remarkable synchronicity. Both came from a place of idealism, where utopian schemes, masterplans, living space and civic buildings were designed to ease societal shifts – even if they were rooted in distinct cultures and historical experience. Regardless, they went on to make a remarkable impression on future generations, at home and abroad.

Superstudio, Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione

Superstudio, Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione, 1968.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian / Centre Pompidou)

A highly creative architecture of purpose flourished within these stabilising societies – an attempt to gain control over a swiftly evolving landscape and rapid developments in science and technology. ‘Invisible Architecture surveys these projects through the lens of three themes: environment, technology and inhabitation. Curator Rita Elvira Adamo grew this substantial survey from a research project at London Metropolitan University, collaborating with Italian academics Cristiano Lippa and Federico Scaroni from the University of Tokyo.

Works on display include designs by Sou Fujimoto, Yamazaki Kentaro, Onishimaki + Hyakudayuki Architects, Yuko Nagayama, OFL Architecture, DAP Studio, Ian+, Studio Wok and Tipi Studio. The exhibition culminates with a large site-specific inflatable by Analogique, which meditates on the values of the two groups.

Poster for the work of Kisho Kurokawa

Awazu Kiyoshi, poster for the work of Kisho Kurokawa, 1970. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates)

Strutture in Liquefazione

Strutture in Liquefazione by Archizoom, 1968.

(Image credit: Courtesy of CSAC dell’Università di Parma)

A versatile metal frame

A versatile metal frame hosts objects and images in the exhibition.

(Image credit: Anna Positano, Fabrizio Vatieri /Opfot.com)

Exhibitions on display works

A detail of the exhibition.

(Image credit: Anna Positano, Fabrizio Vatieri /Opfot.com)

Gazebo Che Guevara, by Archizoom, 1962.

Gazebo Che Guevara, by Archizoom, 1962.

(Image credit: CSAC dell’Università di Parma)

Bridge structure image by Ian

Energy bridges by Ian+ 2013

(Image credit: press)

Exhibition of inflatable installation

The site-specific inflatable installation for the exhibition designed by Analogique

(Image credit: Anna Positano, Fabrizio Vatieri /Opfot.com)

Exterior view of the Museo Carlo Bilotti

Exterior view of the Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome, Italy with the installation

(Image credit: Anna Positano, Fabrizio Vatieri /Opfot.com)

The exhibition culminates with a large site-specific inflatable by Analogique

OFL Architecture, X Project, Rome, Italy, 2011

(Image credit: Analogique)

Arata Isozaki, Office Building, plan for Tokyo

Arata Isozaki, Office Building, plan for Tokyo, with Kenzo Tange, perspective of office tower, 1960. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Department of Urban Engineering, University of Tokyo)

Master plan of Matomachi Apartments

Master plan of Matomachi Apartments, Hiroshima, designed by Masato Otaka, 1969-78. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of National Archives of Modern Architecture)

Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa

Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa, axonometric drawing of capsule unit at 1:20 scale, 1972. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates)

INFORMATION
‘Invisible Architecture’ is on view until 26 March. For more information, visit the Museo Carlo Bilotti website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Museo Carlo Bilotti
Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Rome

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Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.