In Tokyo, Sam Kriss paid a visit to the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the crowning achievement of an architecture collective called the Metabolists. Its modular design comprises a series of pods, each containing a bed, a kitchen, a toilet, and some storage space—and more pods could be added or subtracted as its residents deemed appropriate. A beautiful idea, right? Well, it failed: “Some of the pods are still inhabited, but it’s hard to see how. From outside, the tower looked like a dying animal, sweating and greasy in the heat, trapped inside its wire netting. Looking up, you could see that some capsules had been half-filled with rotting garbage, a rippling line of trash drawn across their single windows. Inside, panels peel from the ceilings and mold crawls underneath; grime and seepage scorches the concrete with strange, bubbling forms. Kurokawa’s masterpiece was an utter, unsalvageable failure.”

The Sad Story of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, and Other News


Kurokawa Nakagin Capsule Hotel [x]

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.