Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Things I Like..., Travels > Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo

Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Arch Daily recently sent me a link to this wonderful 70’s visionary building, the Nakagin Capsule Tower, designed by Kisho Kurokawa and completed in 1972.

A and I were lucky enough visit this intriguing structure when we were in Japan about 6 years ago. We had both touched on the architectural movement known as “metabolism” in architectural history lectures at university and I for one had always been fascinated by the idea of adaptable and interchangeable building types.

Anyway, by pure chance, our hotel was only a 20 minute walk away, so we braved the Tokyo roads and went for a look… and very sad and dejected it looked too.

The photo here is from the 1970’s (as evidenced by the empty roads) when it all looked shiny and new, whereas in 2005, it was falling apart. I’m not sure if it was the pollution from the roads, fledgling construction technologies that were not quite up to the job, or a very poor approach to management,  but something was not working in the buildings favour…

Sadly we couldn’t get inside the building as it is still in use as private residences, so we were unable to see any of the fantastic self-contained “pods” that hang off the structure and provide the overall form. They may not be the biggest spaces in the world, but hey this is Japan and they are supercool…

So when I got the link from ArchDaily, I initially thought/ hoped that  it was in response to a recent refurbishment programme, something that is desperately need to bring this wonderful structure back to its former glory. It seems that this is not the case however, and it was simply a timely reminder about this iconic piece of architecture.

As an aside, it seems to me that there is still a strong argument in mass housing for the use of repetitive units made under strict quality control in a factory, delivered to site on the back of a lorry and then plugged in. The recent vogue for volumetric construction in the UK is a case in point and as the technology is now up the task, all we need is a little political will and we could soon all be living in such wonders as the Nakagin Capsule Tower.

Bring it on…

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  1. April 19, 2013 at 07:14

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thanks
    for sharing this one. A must read post!

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