Tokyo 1972 | Nakagin Capsule Tower

Nakagin Capsule Tower is one of the most famous Metabolist architecture built by Kisho Kurokawa in Tokyo’s Ginza district in 1972. The design intention was to allow travelling businessmen that worked in central Tokyo to live in as a kind of temporary housing. It is an architecture prototype with sustainability and recyclability, since each module can be attached to the central core and replaced or exchanged when necessary. 
Photo of Nakagin Capsule Tower © 2006, Arcspace
Photo of Nakagin Capsule Tower © 2006, Arcspace
The unique, flexible and growing building design is a prime example of the Metabolism architecture movement of Kisho. These ideas were first mentioned in 1960 at the World Design Conference, mentioned at a previous post by my group mate. Hidaka once stated that the Metabolist ideas of the 1960s “were very new, they saw cities as ‘moving’ and dynamic, that concept is real. Metabolism wanted to collaborate with engineers, they invited scientists ,designers, and industrial designers. They wanted transcultural collaborations. It’s still relevant because of the ‘dynamic city’ and trans-cultural aspects”.
What Kurokawa observed from the Japanese architecture was the temporary and unpredictable lifespans of the natural materials used in building. That is why the capsules were built to be replaceable; however, the building has not been maintained in over 33 years which led to serious drainage and other problems.

TAB Video documentary on architect Kisho Kurokawa and the Nakagin Capsule Tower © May-July 2007, Tokyo Art Beat

It is a video documentary on Kisho Kurokawa and the Nakagin Capsule Tower. He explained that the lack of maintenance of the tower was due to the division of ownership and inheritance of modules. While residents are plotting its demolition, architects from around the world are trying to preserve the towers.

More architectural details of the Nakagin Capsule Tower will be discussed. (Link)


Source: Archdaily

1 Comment on “Tokyo 1972 | Nakagin Capsule Tower

  1. The problem of this replaceable capsule is, people start to own them instead of following the original idea of “temporary” and take it as hotel/rental house. Thus when an architect design a building she/he maybe should also think about how people would think of it/use it in long term, and how to sustain the building not only in materials but the concept also. Since the concept may lose and so as the core value of the design if other factors dive in. In this case was the money.

    It could be really depressing for the architect and also for whoever was once amazed by the idea/design. And I sincerely hope that this can be preserved.

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