Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower Is Going Down

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never had a problem with Tokyo’s tendency to tear down old, historic buildings and re-invent architecture, but this one is sad.
Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower (constructed 1970-72), an example of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s and ’70s, is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a new 14-story tower. But a lot of people are against this decision, as you can see here.
Kisho Kurokawa’s Metabolist capsule building consists of 140 units attached to a central core, following the philosophy behind the Metabolist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which envisioned cities formed of modular components.
The building still has residents, but they complain about the modules being very uncomfortable to live in: the space is too small (about 108 sq. ft.), there is just one window, which doesn’t even open, and also no kitchens.


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Photo: Archiweb

But the truth of the matter is that the building definitely represents a small section of the history of 20th century modern architecture.

From what I’ve seen, as an architect, the main reason a lot of buildings can extend their life is because they can function under an alternate use.


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I know is sad to see this piece of history go away, but I do see that this modular building doesn’t really accommodate any kind of reuse. I personally don’t see a solution to convert this architecture into, plus the Metabolist concept of mega-city planning doesn’t work anymore.

Maybe we should just keep one module as a memento.

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