Under Threat: Nakagin Capsule Tower
by Kisho Kurokawa, Tokyo, Japan, 1970-1972
DATE: 12/3/2019
Docomomo International wishes to draw your attention to the alarming future of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, in Shimbashi, Tokyo, Japan, a symbol of cultural revival and optimism for post-war Japan.

Built in 1972, the tower was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa and it was conceived to serve as a mixed-use residential and office building, with the intention to host traveling executives.
The Nakagin Capsule Tower was the world´s first precedent of capsule architecture built for permanent and practical use.
The tower is made of detachable modular-steel capsules, which are connected to two concrete cores that contain stairs and elevators. The height-alternated stair landing, to which the 140 original capsules were aligned with, provided the building with the embodiment of the dynamism the entire project represented. The initial design contemplated the replacement of the capsules once they became obsolete, but, unfortunately, this strategy has never been carried out.

During the Summer of 2018, the plot site of Nakagin Capsule Tower was sold by the Nakagin Group, the developer of the building, to a limited liability company, the CTB GK. The apartment owners’ association of the Capsule Tower was then informed by the new owner of their intent to redevelop the site which comprehends the possible demolition of the building.

Docomomo International believes that the Nakagin Capsule Tower possesses great historical and cultural value, as it is a unique example of Japanese Metabolism, showcasing how its architecture responded to the surrounding circumstances and how flexibility could be the answer to a growing hyper dense and dynamic society.

Docomomo International urges the community, the regulatory authorities and anyone concerned with the fate of the Nakagin Capsule Tower to take this issue very seriously, to join efforts towards the protection of this unique landmark in the world and to prohibit any prospective work that might compromise the historic integrity of this structure.

Photo by Zara Ferreira
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