Posts Tagged ‘nakagin building’

Concept Lost: Tokyo Capsule Building to Be Demolished

July 7, 2009

The landmark Nakagin Capsule Tower is on the block for destruction. The iconic Tokyo structure, perhaps the first building designed with “green” in mind, has been slated to be torn down for some years and the date for demolition is apparently nearing.


The building, despite is relatively recent construction, marks an important point in the course of modern culture and architectural theory. It can also be considered as a physical commentary on the function (and size of) Tokyo living spaces.

The building was constructed in the early 1970s by Kisho Kurokawa and consists of two core structures with pre-fab living modules that were intended to be replaced over time, updating the structure and allow for reconfiguration. Kurokawa said that his intent was to design the building as “an example of sustainable architecture” and intended for it to last 200 years.  However, no reconfiguration or replacement was ever accomplished.

Over the past decades the building has fallen into disrepair and concerns about asbestos have been raised by residents.  Kurokawa linked the maintenance problem to the ownership of the building and the fact that the 140 people presently living there are not the original residents.  He postulated that the newer residents, perhaps, have less attachment to the original concept of the building and so, do not have such a desire to preserve it. Prior to Kurokawa’s death in 2007, he had hoped to gain personal ownership of the building.

In the NY Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff describes the apparently imminent loss of the Nakagin Towers as based in a kind of bureauocratic apathy which places property rights above cultural and historic importance.  And, he says, with such destructions as this, “the cultural loss will be tremendous.”

Future Vision Banished to the Past/Nicolai Ouroussoff

2007 interview with architect Kisho Kurokawa / Tokyo Art Beat

Companion video of interview/youtube

Kurokawa’s Capsule Tower to Be Razed/Architectural Record(2007)