Nakagin Capsule Tower, JAPAN / Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates

The Nakagin Capsule Tower is the world's first capsule architecture built for actual use. Capsule architecture design, establishment of the capsule as room and insertion of the capsule into a mega-structure, expresses its contemporaneousness with other works of liberated architecture from the later 1960's, in particular England's Archigram Group, France's Paul Memon, and Yona Friedman. 

The building follows the axioms of Metabolist philosophy. It consists of two separate towers which serve as support to 140 prefabricated capsules. Each capsule is one self-contained tiny apartment. The original idea postulated that capsules could be eventually replaced by newer models, keeping living standards in the building constantly up to date. The original target demographic was bachelor salarymen. The capsules were fully furnished in up-to-the-minute fashion, including such amenities as a kitchen stove, a refrigerator, a television set, and a reel-to-reel tape deck.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower takes on the challenge of the issue of whether mass production can express a diverse new quality. The Tower also strives to establish a space for the individual as a criticism to the Japan that modernized without undergoing any establishment of an “self”.

Kurokawa developed the technology to install the capsule units into a concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, as well as making the units detachable and replaceable. The capsule is designed to accommodate the individual as either an apartment or studio space, and by connecting units can also accommodate a family. Complete with appliances and furniture, from audio system to telephone, the capsule interior is pre-assembled in a factory off-site. The interior is then hoisted by crane and fastened to the concrete core shaft.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower realizes the ideas of metabolism, exchangeability, recycleablity as the prototype of sustainable architecture.

Video: Inside Nakagin Capsule Tower

Cite: Kisho.co.jp. (2017). KISHO KUROKAWA. [online] Available at: http://www.kisho.co.jp/page/209.html [Accessed 1 Nov. 2017].

Atlas Obscura. (2017). Nakagin Capsule Tower. [online] Available at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/nakagin-capsule-tower [Accessed 1 Nov. 2017].

Divisare. (2017). Kisho Kurokawa Architect And Associates, fala · Nakagin Capsule Tower. 1972. [online] Available at: https://divisare.com/projects/17032-kisho-kurokawa-architect-and-associates-fala-nakagin-capsule-tower-1972 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2017].

Photography by: Noritaka Minami

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