Kiyonori Kikutake (1928-2011)

The architect Kiyonori Kikutake died Dec 26, 2011, at a hospital in Tokyo due to heart failure, it was reported Jan 5. He was 83 years old.

One of the founders of Japan’s avant-garde Metabolist architecture group, formed in 1960 on the occasion of the World Design Conference in Tokyo, Kikutake was born in Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture, where he displayed his design talent while still a teenager by winning a competition for the local station, and continued submitting to architectural competitions while studying at Tokyo’s Waseda University. Soon after graduating, he established his own studio in 1953.

Kikutake’s 1958 proposal for a floating “Marine City” was influential in shaping the direction of Metabolism. Built that same year, his personal residence in Tokyo, Sky House, merged the adaptability of Japanese architecture with modernist form, arranging the functions of a home into a single space elevated on pilotis above a hillside. Other iconic built projects include the Administrative Building of Izumo Shrine (completed 1963) in Shimane; the Miyakonojo Civic Center (1966); and the Landmark Tower at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. In 2005 he was the general producer of the Aichi World Expo.

His influence on contemporary Japanese architecture is considerable. with architects Toyo Ito and Itsuko Hasegawa among those who trained under him.

Work by Kikutake and the Metabolists is currently on view in an exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, “Metabolism: The City of the Future,” through Jan 15.

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