Metabolism Revived

Related Staff : Thomas Daniell

Students: Chan Hiu Ying Carmen; Chan Ho Yi Alice; Cheng Xiao Thomas; Di Canossa Claudia; Hau Cho Wing Calvin; Ho Vivian; Kwok King Shuen Amanda; Lau Hiu Yeung Karlo; Luk Yuen Yan Joanne; Mao Yiqing Tim; Sin Ka Chung; Wong Hei Wun Wilson

Thematically, this studio examined the legacy of Metabolism, the 1960s Japanese architectural avant-garde. Programmatically, the task was to make design proposals for a postgraduate educational institution. Students were asked to examine and reassess the latent potentials of the original Metabolist proposals, particularly with regard to present-day economic, environmental, and cultural pressures. This knowledge was then applied to a site in the Ilha Verda region of the Macau peninsula, where a new university campus is currently under construction.

Following a collective study of the site and its neighborhood, each student developed a range of Neo-Metabolist design prototypes. Two themes were emphasized: the creation of flexible, volumetric planning systems that can be modified over time, and the implementation of new ground surfaces independent from the site. Students were provided with a map of the neighborhood and drawings of the actual campus design, to which they made critical counterproposals. Each project was conceived as an oasis that may accommodate future growth and change, thereby enabling interaction with, and enhancement of, its immediate neighborhood. The incorporation of greenery, water, and passive environmental systems at every scale of the project was emphasized. Of particular interest were the ways in which the sciences of biology and ecology have advanced since the 1960s, and may thereby provide new metaphors for architectural design, in terms of both diagrammatic spatial organization and tectonic material assemblage. Students were encouraged to make proposals with a level of visionary ambition similar to that of the original Metabolists.

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