kisho kurokawa's iconic nakagin capsule tower in tokyo faces demolition

May 12, 2021

designed in 1972 by architect kisho kurokawa, the nakagin capsule tower stands as an emblematic example of metabolism architecture right in the heart of tokyo, up until today. however, that could change very soon, as reports reveal that the new tower owner intends to proceed with a large-scale redevelopment, with the entire building facing demolition. although no official announcement has been issued, the tower’s demise has been discussed intensely during the last years, due to the structure’s unsafe condition and its incompatibility with current seismic standards.

kisho kurokawa formed the nakagin tower as an asymmetrical arrangement of concrete pods — a bold, dynamic structure that grows organically and adapts to its urban surroundings. although the architect intended for the tiny capsules to be replaced every 25 years, the two-tower structure remains unaltered till now, 49 years after its completion. in addition, with preservation initiatives failing to take solid actions against the building’s aging, and non-existent maintenance leading to damaged water pipes, the iconic tower seems derelict.

tokyo reporter has recently shared the latest details regarding the tower stating that ‘the management association for the tower has decided to sell it. the move clouds the future of the structure, which could be headed for demolition.’ according to the news outlet, ‘a preservation push has been ongoing. but the management association for the building, which consists of capsule owners, voted to sell the building to the landowner earlier this year.’ despite the building’s global acclaim and its undisputed significance in modern architecture history, the fate of the famous metabolism emblem seems uncertain.

project info:

name: nakagin capsule tower architect: kisho kurokawa original completion: 1972 location: ginza, tokyo, japan