Architect Kisho Kurokawa was very innovative in his creation of the Nakagin Capsule Tower in 1972, which was the first capsule architecture design. The 140 capsule module was created with the intention of housing traveling businessmen that worked in central Tokyo (Ginza area) during the week. It is a prototype for architecture of sustainability and recycleability, as each module can be plugged in to the central core and replaced or exchanged when necessary.
The window is large and circular; it seems huge in such a space. Our room faces west, overlooking the surrounding buildings and the Shimbashi crossing, which at night is filled with lights. The frame is fixed, to avoid accidents, yet this precludes natural ventilation in the room. In the ’70s, all the windows had a round fan system that controlled the amount of light coming in, but today only the metal support in the middle of the window remains. As a result, and despite the fact that we put up a blue curtain, every day at 6am light invades the capsule. At first, sleeping was a problem, but now we are used to it.
All the surfaces are in contact with the outside and the insulation is not particularly good. The result is simple: the capsule is sweltering in the summer and freezing during winter. There is an enormous ventilation system integrated into the original design of the capsule. The wheel button allows three options: “fan”, “low” and “high”, but the air temperature cannot be controlled since it is set by the general system of the entire building. The air ducts are damaged in many places and some residents speak of possible contaminations. Even though we use an electric heater and the capsule is warm when we go to bed, all the heat quickly dissipates overnight.
Designed by Kisho Kurokawa and constructed in 1972 in Tokyo, this is the worlds first capsule living / working building actually constructed. It features 140 prefabricated units that are attached only by 4 tension bolts so that they can easily, and individually, be replaced or updated.
Completed in 1972, Kisho Kurokawa designed the 14-story tower which consists of 140 pre-assembled individual capsules hoisted by a crane and bolted to the concrete core shaft. Functioning as apartments and business offices, each capsule unit comes complete with appliances and furniture for a single dweller, and by connecting additional units, can accommodate a single family. The Nakagin tower is designed to be adaptable and sustainable, with the capsules’ ability to be removed and replaced for upgrades, and thus minimizing construction waste in the process.