Date: March 15 - September 13, 1970
Location: Osaka, Japan
Architect: Kisho Kurokawa
The Takara Beautilion was designed by the recently deceased, renowned Japanese Architect, Kisho Noriaki Kurokawa. Kurokawa designed this and two other pavilions, for the 1970 World’s Fair held in Osaka, Japan. At the time of its construction, The Takara Beautilion provided a glimpse of what buildings of the future might look like. In 1960, Kurokawa founded the Metabolist architectural movement and philosophy of change with a group of Japanese colleagues. Metabolist theory became an extended biological analogy comparing buildings and cities to the constant renewal and destruction of organic tissue (Boyd 103) as well as recognition of different rates of obsolenscence (Jencks 9). Kisho and others considered the Beautilion to be a realization of Metabolist theory (Kurokawa 45) - largely due to its innovative prefabrication and assembly system, it truly exhibited properties of flexibility, growth and change - the structure was assembled and dismantled in only days and had clear separation between systems with different rates of change. The 298 sq.m. pavilion located on a 1,000 sq.m. site within the grounds “proclaimed the virtues of the new technology, employing space frames, capsule clusters, and sophisticated electronic equipment, to awaken the masses to the potential of Metabolist architecture” (Ross 35).
A new method of prefabrication, analyzed entirely by computer, was applied in creation of the framework as well as the capsules fitted into it (“Japan Architect” 25). The structural system is composed of roughly 200 of the same single prefabricated framing unit. The units are created from white-painted steel pipes, 10 cm in diameter, bent at 12 blunt right-angles and welded together to create hollow cube-shaped stuctures measuring 3.3 meters in each dimension with six arms protruding perpendicular to each face each consisting of four pipes grouped in a square.
The arms have steel plates welded perpendicular to their ends to facilitate attachment to adjacent units (Boyd 102). High-tension bolts were used to join the units together to create a space frame in the desired form, in this case a four-storey irregular pyramid in which he included unused cantilevered frame units to showcase their system (Kurokawa 101). Inserted within the framework’s empty spaces were also thirty enclosed units called ‘capsules’, “equipmentalized containers for the functions that must be served by spaces for shows, kitchen activities, living” and exhibits, which measured (Wakabayashi 131). The Metabolist ideal of flexibility is provided in placement of the capsules, in that, by altering that arrangement of the units, a number of different forms and interior spaces can be created (Kurokawa 101). The stainless steel covered capsules were 2.2 meters wide and tall and 6 meters deep. The finished frame was spiked at its periphery by its unengaged arms, giving the structure an unfinished look, and also exhibit a rule of Metabolism: that a building should be capable of growth (Boyd 102). The floors were also precast - concrete slabs dropped into the frame and the steel structure had a capacity of 200 persons/hectare (“Japan Architect” 190). One issue observed in this prefabrication method was that service pipes cannot easily be accommodated in the trim frame (Boyd 102). Thoughtful combinations of these prefabricated units led to an intricate pavilion comprised of underground, above-ground, and suspended spaces (“Japan Architect” 25).
Author: David Whyte
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Nutt, Bev, Bruce Walker, Susan Holiday, and Dan Sears.Obsolescence in housing. Westmead: Saxon House, D.C. Health Ltd., 1976. Print.
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Ross, Michael Franklin. Beyond Metabolism. New York: Architectural Record Books, 1978. 35. Print.
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