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Nakagin Capsule Tower, located in the Ginza area of Tokyo, was designed by Kisho Kurokawa and completed in 1972. It is a “rare built example of Japanese Metabolism, a movement that became emblematic of Japan’s postwar cultural resurgence.”  The building was the world’s first example of capsule architecture built for actual use. While still in use today, the building is at risk of being demolished. After years of little or no maintenance, it has fallen into disrepair – mildew, leaks, crumbling concrete…and at this point it is far too expensive to restore. For a concept that started out with flexibility in mind – it proved to have many limitations. Theoretically, the capsules were designed to be removed and added to. In reality, this was far too expensive. Designed for the ‘Bachelor salarymen’, the small apartments included all the modern conveniences of the time, a wall of appliances and cabinets built including a stove, a refrigerator, a TV, and a reel-to-reel tape deck. A bathroom unit, similar to an airplane washroom, is set into an opposite corner. A large circular window over a bed is at the far end of the room.  

“The 14-story high Tower has 140 capsules stacked at angles around a central core. Kurokawa developed the technology to install the capsule units into the concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, as well as making the units
detachable and replaceable.”

This piece of ‘future’ architecture, the first to be fabricated in a factory [“prototype for sustainable architecture”, way before Michelle Kaufman], will probably not be around much longer. Often “private developments like the Capsule Tower, no matter how historically important, are regarded in terms of property rights. They are about business first, not culture. Governments don’t like to interfere; the voices of preservationists are shrugged off. “Want to save it?” the prevailing sentiment goes. “Pay for it.”

More than a building, love it or hate it… it is a part of cultural history.

via: New York Times

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