Nakagin Capsule Tower

After the Second World War 98% of buildings and houses in Tokyo had been destroyed. During the reconstruction of the country some Japanese architects thought that the future of architecture should be the most “modular” possible; they were part of the metabolic movement. These architects, worried about the future of our society, thought that living standards would be better if architecture structures were flexible and extensible, they would be better if they grew as if they were a living organism composed by modules. One of the most important metabolist architects of the post-war era was Kisho Kurokawa. He designed the first modular building: the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Shinbashi, Tokyo.

Nakagin Capsule Tower

The building consists of two big columns that form the core. 140 prefabricated capsules were added to this core, each of them attached to one of the two columns with four big screws. Capsules can be replaced by new ones as time passes by and they are built in a factory. The current capsules have a television, a bathroom, a mini-kitchen, a bed, two built-in closets and even a calculator.

Nakagin Capsule Tower
One of the first designs of the currently installed capsules.

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Nakagin Capsule Tower

After almost 40 years the Nakagin Capsule Tower is still in place but the capsule replacement system is not as simple as it was thought at the beginning and the building is getting old. The inhabitants of the tower have decided to demolish it to build a traditional office tower, something the international community of architects opposes. Many of them consider it an exponent of high historical value of how our cities could be nowadays but never happened. It is a reminder of the paths that were not taken, that there was a possibility of other worlds in where we could live in.

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo by Tomio Ohashi.

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo by Tomio Ohashi.

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo by Tomio Ohashi.

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo by Tomio Ohashi.


Video that shows capsules interior with explanations by architect Kisho Kurokawa.

4 Comments
  • Naoko

    November 4, 2009 at 1:34 am

    That’s one cool living space. I wouldn’t mind staying there. It looks fantastic.

  • Alana

    November 4, 2009 at 3:15 am

    OMG! I would TOTALLY live here! It’d be like being in a retro sci-fi show like star trek, buck rogers or logan’s run!

  • Tornadoes28

    November 4, 2009 at 9:55 am

    It would be nice if it could be saved. Even today, I think that building is just ahead of its time. Maybe someday in the future these types of buildings will be used.

  • Tornadoes28

    November 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Plus, it’s buildings like this that make Tokyo so damn cool.