NYT article on Tokyo capsule apartments highlights problem of architectural preservation


The NY Times has a great article with pics about the imminent destruction of Nakagin Capsule Tower, a rare survivor from Tokyo’s Metabolist architectural era of the 1970s. The tower, created by architect Kisho Kurokawa, is full of apartment units that are actually factory-made capsules with compact built-in furniture and a giant porthole that, for many residents, faces a busy highway. The writer offers this explanation as to why there isn’t a bigger movement to preserve this unique building:

all over the world, postwar architecture is still treated with a measure of suspicion by the cultural mainstream, which often associates it with brutal city housing developments or clinical office blocks. Partly, too, it has to do with the nature of housing blocks in general. They are not sexy investments; they do not feed an investor’s vanity or offer the cultural prestige that owning a landmark house does.


3 thoughts on “NYT article on Tokyo capsule apartments highlights problem of architectural preservation

  1. While I admire the design, I can understand why the tenants decided to have it demolished: not many people find it delightful to live in a washing machine.

  2. The reason why it is going to be torn down is because Tokyo has a 30 year building policy. There is no building older than 30 years… This is not Europe folks… rip it down! make room for the new…

  3. I suspect it was poorly built in the first place, same as nearly every building in Japan (my father-in-law’s place was hand-built by his father, a home builder, and is a notable exception–you can afford wonderful stuff if you’re not paying labor!).
    I actually wish Japan were more like Europe, or even the US. It makes me sick to see people throwing their money away on poorly-built, energy-inefficient mass-produced houses that will depreciate to zero before the loan is paid off.
    “Make room for the new” sounds great and all, but when the “new” is just more rickety crap, how is that a good thing?