When residential area in Tokyo started to shift to the suburbs, this building was intended to be one tactical move to restore housing units to the central part of the city and to provide those who commute to the center from the outlying area with studios, an extra bedroom or a place for social activities. The individual units were mass-produced and fastened in the desired arrangement to the central core by high-tension bolts. Each room is provided with various facilities found in a single hotel room. The design anticipates change and growth. By replacement or removal of the capsules, the appearance of the architecture changes over time. A changing, evolving architecture contains the potential for participation by the resident in determining its form. By creating spaces of autonomy and individual identity, this building symbolizes individual human existence in the urban landscape. This is symbiosis between material and spirit. The concept also expresses the aesthetic of Metabolism, the aesthetic of transience.
Finishes and Materials
Capsule exterior: steel with sprayed paint finish
Towers: core-Ten structural steel frame
Lower portion: fair-faced reinforced concrete
Capsule interior: steel capsule with cloth covering on the ceiling and wall carpet on the floor
Nakagin Capsule Tower
The Nakagin Capsule Tower is the worlds 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 1960s, in particular Englands Archigram Group, Frances Paul Memon, and Yona Friedman. 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.
(Kisho Kurokawa, 2000)