Nakagin Capsule Tower is the world’s first capsule architecture meant for practical use. Completed in 1972 by architect Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007), it’s a rare form of architecture (Japanese Metabolism), which still exists today. However, it’s on the brink of demolition.
At 4m x 2.5m, it has a large circular window, a bed, a desk, a refrigerator, bathroom, a TV, radio and alarm clock. The only thing missing from it to be known as a fully functional living unit really is a stove.
Nakagin Capsule Tower is compact living at its best. It was initially designed to house businessmen who were working late till the night in Tokyo. As of today, the 140 units are not fully utilized and the materials are not withstanding the test of time.
Water leakage is common throughout the 14-storey tower. However, there are some who are buying the capsules at 2 to 4.8 million yen (S$22,000 – S$55,000) per capsule, and restoring them to oppose demolition.
Kisho Kurokawa said “the theory for the tower is that if you replace the capsules every 25 years, it could last 200 years. It’s recyclable. I designed it as sustainable architecture.”
Hiroyuki Suzuki, an architecture historian in Japan said “a building has to withstand a 50 year period in order to be acknowledged for its historical value,” and the Nakagin Capsule tower is currently at its 43rd year. Arata Isozaki, a Japanese architect said, “this building should be preserved as a cultural model of that era.” Of which he later added, “it must.”
Many are campaigning against the demolition. Japanese architectural academics, the Japan Institute of Architects, Docomomo Japan, World Architecture News, petition by tens of thousands of people and more.
Why it’s up for demolition
It’s sad because those who stay in it inherited it from their parents who are into such architecture but not their children who aren’t very interested. Thus, there weren’t any efforts made to preserve the building from residents.
Also, a hedge funds company bought over the Nakagin company when they went bankrupt. They plan to demolish the Nakagin Capsule Tower, to make way for a new building to make a profit.
Nakagin Capsule Tower is going to be demolished. But the building still exists as it was rumored that a developer for the new building has yet to be found. Fussy hopes the building stays there permanently. Are you a fan of minimal living as well?
If you are and you can’t purchase the capsule, you can actually stay in it through Airbnb. Or, purchase a book of how the Nakagin Capsules look like on the inside from Noritaka Minami’s Kickstarter campaign.