1987 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Japan

Kisho Kurokawa
Japan, 1934-2007

Architect, town planner, author and philosopher, Kisho Kurokawa is an outstanding personality in contemporary architecture. ln the early 1960s, he launched a major new trend in architecture — Metabolism — and has designed numerous buildings epitomizing this concept.


Vitally concerned with the concept of man in his architectural environment, Kisho Kurokawa has been responsible for the planning of several new towns. Imbued with a deep sense of Buddhism, he cites this as being his main guiding influence.


Kisho Kurokawa obtained a diploma in architecture at the University of Kyoto in 1957 and, in 1964, graduated with a doctorate from the University of Tokyo.


Considered one of today’s great innovative architects, Kurokawa is also a talented engraver, sculptor, furniture designer, author and philosopher. He has already built 50 significant buildings, written 20 books, designed six towns, and attracted an audience of 30 million people for his weekly television programme.


ln 1960, he launched a major new architectural movement called Metabolism, which constituted a fully-fledged design philosophy and entailed conceiving buildings and cities in a way that recognized that things grow old at different rates (for example, building structures might last 100 years, but their domestic equipment might become obsolete in five). The Metabolist solution was to separate the two: build a structure that would be permanent and insert in it living capsules that could be replaced as they become outdated.


Among his most celebrated works have been the headquarters of the Japan Red Cross Society, Tokyo (1977); the National Ethnological Museum, Osaka (1977); the Sony Tower, Osaka (1976); the Saitama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Urawa (1982); the National Bunraku Theater, Osaka (1983); and the Wacoal Kojimachi Building, Tokyo (1984). Another of his remarkable designs was the Capsule Tower in Tokyo (1972), which provides Japanese businessmen staying overnight in the city with a honeycomb structure of pocket-sized sleeping cells luxuriously equipped but with not a spare centimetre of superfluous space.


The results of his architectural prowess are to be seen worldwide: from the new town of As-Sarir in Libya, to a hotel in Via Valcannuta in Rome, the resort development of Hainan Island and the high-rise office tower in Shenzhen, China, the Haskovo Opera House in Bulgaria, the plant-protection research headquarters of Bayer AG in Monheim, Germany, and the Berlin Institute in West Berlin.


His designs have been awarded prizes in numerous competitions, including for the TANU headquarters and parliament of Tanzania, the Abu Dhabi international congress city and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. He has held exhibitions in London, Paris, Chicago, New York, Rome, Moscow, Budapest, Sofia, Helsinki and Tokyo, and has authored a long list of publications.


Kisho Kurokawa died on 12 October, 2007.

Other 1987 Jury Members