Goodbye Kisho Kurokawa's famous architecture-Nakagin Capsule Tower Building April 26, 12:53

The building was completed when the architect Kisho Kurokawa was 37 years old.



The "Nakagin Capsule Tower Building" has a mysterious appearance that looks like a stack of rectangular parallelepiped blocks.



Kurokawa aimed for a "sustainable" architecture by exchanging capsules.



The famous architecture of the Showa era, which has fascinated many people for half a century, disappears unfortunately.



(Tokyo Metropolitan Area Reporter Hiroko Ujiie)

Kisho Kurokawa and Capsule Tower Building talked about by the eldest son

Mikio Kurokawa, the eldest son of Kisho Kurokawa, who runs a design office.



He was seven years old when the Capsule Tower Building was completed.



He recalled that he remembered drawing and explaining at his home.

Mikio Kurokawa


"There was a day when Kurokawa (Kisho) told me that he was building a building like this recently. I drew a picture and said," It would be amazing. " It was only once that I explained and bragged about the building to my child. I was so happy to talk that I felt that it was special to him. "

However, after that, there was a backlash against his father, and it is said that he had few relationships.



It was after Kurokawa died that I first entered the capsule.

Mikio Kurokawa


"At first, I feel that the inside of the capsule is small, but strangely, it doesn't feel like that after about 10 minutes.



(After my death) I heard from the people who supported the Kurokawa office .

Then, I came to understand the character of Kurokawa. He was a very serious person for his work, and he had a lot of things that he had to protect. Only after he knew that, he could respect him. "

"Future" architecture completed in 1972

The Nakagin Capsule Tower Building, completed in 1972 in Ginza, Tokyo, has 140 residential capsules attached to the 13th and 11th floor twin towers.



It was a condominium, but initially it was supposed to be used for business.

The photo above is the inside of the capsule at the time of completion.



The area is about 10 square meters.



It is equipped with a TV and the latest audio equipment, and there is also a unit bath.



The photo below shows the window side.



A round window with a diameter of 1 meter and 30 centimeters makes you imagine the inside of a spaceship.

Building "metabolism" = a masterpiece of Metabolism

Residential capsules were originally supposed to be replaced every 25 years.



An architectural movement from Japan called "Metabolism" that means "metabolism" advocated by Kisho Kurokawa and others.



Kurokawa aimed to sustain semi-permanently by exchanging capsules, with the idea that architecture will evolve by replacing equipment, etc., like the metabolism of living things, in accordance with changes in the times and society. ..

The Capsule Tower Building became known as Kurokawa's masterpiece that embodied that "Metabolism", but as a result, the capsules were never replaced.



Professor Toshihiko Suzuki of the Faculty of Architecture, Kogakuin University, who studies capsule architecture, says:

Professor Toshihiko Suzuki, Kogakuin University


"The reason why it wasn't replaced was that it was physically difficult to remove only one capsule because it was piled up from the bottom with a crane



. I think I thought that it would lead to the vital sustainability of architecture. This idea of ​​metabolism had a great impact on foreign countries in particular. "

Residents fascinated by capsules

Many people are fascinated by this unusual architecture.

Tatsuyuki Maeda (55), who had longed for this building since he was a child, purchased one room in 2010.



Due to aging, rain leaked and the hot water supply pipe was broken so that hot water could not be discharged, but for Mr. Maeda, it was comfortable and the community of unique residents was attractive.

Mr. Tatsuyuki Maeda


"Since I could see it from the highway, I was worried that it was a strangely shaped building since I was in elementary school. I found the sign that says "I bought it. As I got acquainted with the residents of the capsules around me, I realized that it was a building where attractive people were gathering."

Residents were renovating according to their purpose of use.



A Japanese-style room with the image of a tea room.



A modern room based on black.



A second house for hobbies and work.



Although the replacement was not expected at the time of construction, it may be said that the capsule has "evolved" according to the lifestyle of the inhabitants.

Tadashi Fujimura (63), a first-class architect who works for a construction company, has also rented a room since 2017 and has been using it as a guest house so that many people can experience the charm of capsules.



More than 600 people have visited, including acquaintances who like architecture, colleagues in the workplace, and acquaintances.

Each user's thoughts on the Capsule Tower Building are written and illustrated in the four books.



In the wake of my visit, prints were made on the subject of buildings and concerts were held.



Mr. Fujimura realized the "diversity" created by capsules.

Mr. Tadashi Fujimura


"(Kurokawa) cherished" individual "and built a building like a base for businessmen, but a community was born spontaneously there. It is an architecture that teaches us the importance of connecting, and I feel that the standardized capsules are a space that inspires the diversity of users. "

"Save" instead of "dismantling"

In 2007, the management union once resolved to dismantle and rebuild the building, but after that it became a blank slate.



It is said that even among the owners, opinions were divided on whether to rebuild or preserve.



Mr. Maeda wants to protect this building that attracts people, and in 2014 he will launch the "Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Preservation and Regeneration Project" with some residents.



As part of her conservation efforts, she became the owner of 15 rooms, holding tours to increase fans and publishing photo books that convey her charm.

However, around 2019, we were in talks with an overseas company that would save and regenerate it for sale, but it will disappear with the new Corona.



Then, in March 2021, the management union resolved to sell it to a real estate agent who was planning to dismantle and rebuild it.

Mr. Tatsuyuki Maeda, Representative of the Preservation and Regeneration Project


"Since it is a building owned separately, we have coordinated with the management association and increased the number of owners of the preservation group. There was an offer from an overseas company, but all stopped with the new corona. In the end, it was decided to dismantle it. It was really disappointing because I had been working for many years to keep it. "

Part of the capsule goes to "second life"

April 5th, one week before the demolition work begins.



A party was held to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Capsule Tower Building with Mr. Maeda and Mr. Fujimura.



Although the building will be demolished, it has been decided that some of the capsules will be "reused" by the activities of Mr. Maeda and others.



In addition to requests from museums in Japan and overseas to "exhibit capsules," there are also plans for facilities where you can experience staying in capsules.

Mr. Tatsuyuki Maeda, Representative of the Preservation and Regeneration Project


"Originally, the biggest goal was to replace the capsules and leave them, but that didn't happen. You can just remove the capsules and leave them. I look forward to its future use, and I would like to continue to convey the appeal of this building. "

Prophecy of Corona's evil 50 years ago?

Professor Toshihiko Suzuki of the Faculty of Architecture, Kogakuin University says that he feels that Kisho Kurokawa predicted the lifestyle changes caused by the new corona 50 years ago.

Professor Toshihiko Suzuki of Kogakuin University


predicted that "Kurokawa will play a leading role in the information-oriented society as a person who works and lives while moving," and named it "Homo Movens."



And I had declared that the house of "Homo Movens" was a capsule building. Now that the life of moving from multiple bases to work such as telework and professor can be done anywhere due to the corona, the times have caught up with Kurokawa. It can be said that

On top of that, by giving a new life to the capsule to be removed this time, I think that the "metabolism" that Kurokawa aimed for will finally be realized.

"It's a pity that it will be dismantled, but it is expected that the most important capsules will be removed and exhibited at museums around the world, or reused as a place to experience accommodation. There, Kurokawa's I feel the strength of the concept, and I hope that it will lead to the future in life. "

Postscript to the villa left by Kisho Kurokawa

I heard that there is a villa left by Kurokawa in the mountains of Miyota Town, Nagano Prefecture, near Karuizawa, so I visited there.



"Capsule House K" was built in 1973, the year after the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building was completed.



It is a house with four capsules placed around the living room, and we are currently working on a project to operate it as an accommodation facility by our eldest son, Mirai.

Ms. Mirai said that she would like her to spend a relaxing time at home and experience the architecture of Metabolism instead of visiting for a limited time.

Mikio Kurokawa


"I didn't want to build Kurokawa because I wanted to use it as a villa, but I wanted to make a model house for a capsule house of Metabolism. That's why I have a strong desire to share this architecture with everyone. I used it as a private lodging. I hope that we can create a direction for future capsule utilization. "

"Nakagin Capsule Tower Building" has been loved by many people for half a century.

It disappears, but I am convinced that it will remain in people's memory as I hear strong feelings from the people I met during the interview.



And I would like to pay attention to the whereabouts of the capsule that will lead the second life.

Tokyo Metropolitan Area Bureau Reporter


Hiroko Ujiie


Joined in 2010


After working at the Okayama Bureau and Niigata Bureau, the Metropolitan Area Bureau


covered a wide range of medical and educational fields.

Keywords: