VERS UNE ARCHITECTURE – The ‘Metabolist’1 Vision
Arata Isozaki’s2 early work [late 1950’s] was self-creative as a ‘Metabolist’. That oeuvre follows his well-expressed analysis of Architecture as it concerns radicalism, Modernity and Japan-ness. My work shows it follows the geometric basis of the Universal organisation of Form – exactly as Einstein’s Relativity had, in 1905, radically revised Classical conceptions of Space and Time, co-incidental with that brief dawning of ‘Cultural Modernity’.
My life-work has its late-1950’s early-1960’s origins and ‘Metabolist’ development almost coincidental in timing and intent with Arata’s – aspiring to make an Architecture evolutionary in following Nature’s organic directives and formations.
A base-geometric impetus has ever found cultural form in brief radical movements, exploring and applying those same insights in an Universal Architectural Theory – lastly in that most-revolutionary era of 20th-century ‘Modernity’3.
Isozaki addressed that issue of those ‘constructivist’ Base-Forms in three short chapters of his analytical work “Japan-ness in Architecture”4. But, for key conceptual reasons (as I explain in this thesis) neither he nor others could set-out a definitive and programmable conclusion of ‘why?’ or ‘how?’ such radicalisms then appear and operate. Yet that is the pivotal concern on which comprehension of cultural existence turns – and this Blog defines.
Chapter 12 – “The Modern Fate of Pure Geometric Form”.
Chapter 13 – “Chǒgen’s Constructivism”.
Chapter 14 – “The Five-Ring Pagoda in Historical Turmoil”.
The nub of the issue is in that Japan-ness of ‘Ma’5. As from the ancient-Indian [Vedic6] conception it is reflected in Einstein’s revelation of the inherently ongoing geometric integrations of ‘Space-Time’. His radical insights demonstrably demolished (at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945) the Western-Classical conceptions of a permanent materiality ‘extant in a finite 3-D Volumetric Space infinite-lasting over 1-D Linear Time’. That epochal-transforming cataclysm continually informed Isozaki’s ‘local-event’ viewpoint and life-experience, as it set in new-place our Cosmic-conditioned Era.
However, for those same conceptual reasons the Unified-Field Structure of ‘Relativistic’ space-time [‘Ma’ space-time] was not defined by Einstein, nor Quantum analysts since.
Those Base Forms are generally seen as the ‘Classical’ (common-sense) interpretations – inert background metrics fixed-locating ‘real’ and ‘separated’ material events. There, such conceptually falsified ‘Space’ is Cartesian, a 3-D finite Formless Void, falsified ‘Time’ that infinite extending 1-D Arrow of a rectilinear-measured ‘History’.
Even now in our advanced sciences, most do not appreciate the simple operative geometrics of Relativity, as Einstein alone formulated it . Minkowski’s classicism interpreted that  to still confuse as ‘4-D’. Yet Einstein’s insights are well-proven as applied. Those are symbolised in Chǒgen’s modelled Universe – a Buddhist Stupa [Dagoba].
That ever-ongoing integration of infinite-open planar-rectilinear [2-D] Euclidean ‘Space’ [C2] is with local-closed spherical-surface [1-D – ‘G’] of non-Euclidean ‘Time’. So a ‘Ma’ space-time fusion is inherently a dynamic-geometric ∏ [Pi] conditioning – a dis-continuum operating via the energetic agency of tetrahedral triangulation. Buckminster-Fuller thoroughly explored that energy-realm to arrive at the same tetra-point base [‘quantum jitter-bug‘] conclusion: Ref: ‘Synergetics’7.
No other base-formative configuration is possible. It works as those same geometrics of Periodic-Time + Serial-Space appear, full-separated, in the combined tables of Atomic Elements [Mendeleeve’s orbital-shelled engaging electrons + Moseley’s linear-series radiant nucleons]. Those predictively demonstrate geometric-limiting but dynamic constructive existence in discrete Form and associated discreet Function of every Element. That precise organised diversity constructs Material Reality inherently extending and likewise evolving from that absolute-minimum creative base – even as new Elements are briefly lab-fabricated.
Architectonic Forming is ‘Existence’ as ever ongoing – Universal in Evolutionary Nature’s every creation. However, in our Human-considered interventions that only emerged in a characteristically brief Neolithic Revolution, around 12-10,000 years ago. Evidently a geometric-formal radicalism then first laid-out 2-D based ‘Space’ in the essential planar-rectilinear geometric plan-framing’ of the first such House [ref; Catylhuyuk8]. With urban and rural planning and wall-plane facades a Civilised conditioning architecture was consequentially effective world-wide, up-to our present time of transformation. Japan’s native culturally conditioning dichotomy, Jomon v Yayoi9, intelligibly represents that essential duality of selectively applied base-form, as Isozaki experienced/explored. With its profound socio-logic implications in Time-Logic v Space Logic Western Modernity too then had its separate Organic-Archaic v Mineral Crystalline Modern Movements [e.g. Henry Moore’s v Constantin Brancusi’s sculptures].
So a ‘Ma’ revelation of ‘Japan-ness’ is as relativistic-activated ‘space-time’ – just as Isozaki embraced it. That formula indicates how and why those ‘Purist’10 geometrics must ever recur in times of radical transformation – whether natural or human agency induced. [Note: All this I have set-out in constructive projects, academic presentations and recent generalised Blog posts].
I hope consideration of this too-brief analysis might help others and give Isozaki [even now as Pritzker prizewinner] his overdue regard as Architect tackling the formative issue of creative existence. Science has yet to coherently define any base-formulae for that, (although a DNA Helix gives its geometry). We already operate in its new-formed Epoch; but as Ancient and Modern Architecture has repeatedly so-instructed us that is the key-issue of radical times. Even Philosophical Wittgenstein so addressed it  in his Loos-inspired Vienna House11 – designing/demonstrating “What can be Said” [Time Logic] v “What can be Shown” [Space-Logic].
Ancient Egypt’s Imhotep12 had formulated a resilient multi-millennia Civilised operative System, ‘Pyramidally’ based on such a ‘Ma-operative’ cosmological precept. As Isozaki noted, a reactionary imposition is ever commonly-evidenced to radical movements – so ‘Post-Modernism’ has already run its brief (social-destructive) course.
Le Corbusier geometrically projected “Vers Une Architecture”13 1925 as the point of 20th-century’s radicalism was set to secure Humanity in a new Earth Epoch – then already one transformed industrially above any in our known-active History. But even he could not have imagined the 21st-Century’s technological transformations soon to arrive – as Araka’s ‘Metabolist’ impulses promised. Isozaki and his ‘Metabolist’14 associates projected this re-constructive viewpoint, as one he Constructively helped make available for future millennia development.
However, the ‘New Architecture’ is yet to be intelligibly defined as it must follow Nature’s directives.
So following the geometric base-precepts of this analysis is critical to furthering that essential constructive resolution of Humanity’s new-set Cosmic Progress.
THE CELLULAR STUCTURE OF SPACE-TIME LOGIC – © John McClellan 2019
14Project Japan – https://oma.eu/publications/project-japan-metabolism-talks