Saturday, March 3, 2012

Futuristic Nagakin Tower

When I was visiting Tokyo, I basically ended up face to face with this very interesting landmark building one night (I was semi-lost on the south end of the Shiodome).  I'd seen pictures of it before, but it was pretty cool to see it up close.  Basically, this building is the ultimate in minimalist design and evolution of a capsule hotel if you treat each apartment as a capsule.  It kind of looked a little run down to me, but I didn't know that it was a building that was unmaintained and now marked for demolition.  Quite possibly, there will be a new building here when I visit next.  The residents of the building have voted to have it torn down as they feel it is unsafe (due to earthquakes) and that a better use of space can be found for the site.  Some of the capsule apartments have been preserved and one was on display in the winter of 2011-2012 at the Mori Museum.  The location of this building can be found at my Shiodome post here.
Nakagin Tower   Flickr / izumi_mitatami
"The Nakagin Capsule Tower (中銀カプセルタワー Nakagin Kapuseru Tawā) is a mixed-use residential and office tower designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa and located in Shimbashi, Tokyo.
Completed in 1972, the building is a rare built example of Japanese Metabolism, a movement that became emblematic of Japan's postwar cultural resurgence. The building was the world's first example of capsule architecture built for actual use. The building is still in use as of 2010, but has fallen into disrepair.  The building is actually composed of two interconnected concrete towers, respectively eleven and thirteen floors, which house 140 prefabricated modules (or "capsules") which are each self-contained units. Each capsule measures 2.3 m (7.5 ft) × 3.8 m (12 ft) × 2.1 m (6.9 ft) and functions as a small living or office space. Capsules can be connected and combined to create larger spaces. Each capsule is connected to one of the two main shafts only by four high-tension bolts and is designed to be replaceable. No units have been replaced since the original construction."  From Wikipedia
Nakagin Closeup   Flickr / by x00
"Each capsule unit is locked into a concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, making the units detachable and replaceable. The capsules were designed to accommodate the individual as either an apartment or studio space, and by connecting units they could also accommodate a family. Complete with appliances and furniture, from audio system to telephone, the capsule interior was pre-assembled in a factory off-site and then hoisted by crane and fastened to the concrete core shaft.  The original target demographic were bachelor salarymen. The compact apartments included a wall of appliances and cabinets built in to one side, including a kitchen stove, a refrigerator, a television set, and a reel-to-reel tape deck. A bathroom unit, about the size of an aircraft lavatory, is set into an opposite corner. A large circular window over a bed dominates the far end of the room." From Wikipedia
Capsules and Tower   Flickr / n fiore
Capsule Cutaways    Flickr / n fiore
Capsule Interior  Flickr / n fiore
Just recently Tokyotimes posted an entry about the inside of the Nagakin Tower.  It is interesting that lots of people indicate that the residents of the tower shouldn't be upset as they live in this cool building, but I find it interesting that you just don't have enough room in the apartment units for regular living - just look at the pictures from the blog post.  I can certainly sympathize with the residents from this point of view, but do feel like this building and most of the apartment units should be modernized as the units look old (like they were from the 1970s or something).  I wonder if new modern apartment modules with really innovative storage and space usage could make these bachelor suites more livable.

Below are bunch of other links to information about this building.

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