Tomorrow I’ll be talking at the Time in Architecture conference at Évora University. I’ll be introducing the theme of metabolism in architecture, ranging from the Japanese metabolists to recent biomorphic architectures.
But, essentially, I want to address how the fast consumption of architecture today is also a perverse form of metabolism, with the discipline constantly devouring itself so as to create an illusion of presence within the wider scope of a fast visual and material culture.
The metabolists dealt with the question of permanence of architecture by offering a (failed) possibility to substitute its constitutive parts with ever-new plug-ins. As it happens with product design, these interchangeable parts would respond to constantly changing conditions and aspirations.
The implacable mechanisms of contemporary consumption, however, suggest that architecture itself is wholly and permanently replaceable – as another Japanese, the writer Yukio Mishima, had already portrayed with excruciating beauty in his novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
The difference of our times in regard to classical Japanese culture is that religious obsession – which lead to the replacement of the very same building by its exact replica over and over again – is now itself replaced by an economical fixation, which insists solely in offering ever-new simulacra for constructions that have long ago lost any remaining sense of transcendence.