In an interview with author Juan Jose Milas, architect Toyo Ita explained that, in general, they do not know when an ancient temple was built in Japan. They are intact, not because they are well preserved: they were torn down several times and rebuilt on their foundations: “You come from stone and we from wood… Also, we build our buildings in seismic area. Architecturally, we belong to ephemeral culture… Buildings are works that are changed every ten years even though the land on which they are built is hereditary and the ownership does not change. We have accepted the change in the image of the city as naturalwhich entails periodic renovation of buildings”. Therefore, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka always look brand new,
A building that was a world avant-garde – used in films and documentaries– as Nakagin Capsule Tower, half a century old and already out of date, Because of its structural problems – despite its heritage value – there is a consensus to disarm it (the word “demolition” would not). The process is underway and will end on December 29. Not one day less, no more.
The work was inaugurated in 1972, consisting of two concrete towers connected by 10 steel capsules of 140 square meters, prefabricated and furnished, Embedded in a Lego tower with a crane, They are attached to the shaft by four bolts and have a plane dip in one corner. Its interior was also a masterpiece of design to resemble the control room of a spacecraft. star trek, Each capsule contained a wall-to-wall bed with drawers at the bottom, a folding desk, and built-in equipment: lights, rotary dial telephone, Sony Trinitron TV, mini-fridge, radio, and tape recorder (not yet a cassette player).
Architect Kisho Kurokawa went down in history for this design without a kitchen: Salary-men who will use it as a secondary residence will eat at Izakaya, the tiny bar in the Ginza neighborhood that has the most expensive square meters in Tokyo, the largest urban sprawl on Earth. It was thought for men, a masculine architecture: Wife will be at home and husband will present till any hour, It was more practical to recover in a “separate room” capsule a few meters from the office. Or even a workplace in itself, a studio where overpopulation generates spatial micro-divisions.
Kurokawa’s Capsular Tower Symbolizes the Metabolic Movement Created by the Avant-Garde Kenzo Tange’s Disciples In 1960, an asymmetric architecture was adaptable and changed over time. The idea of this building was that every 25 years, the capsules would be replaced by others, which would be disassembled as interchangeable parts. One can also take it somewhere else (never happened). They were utopians and futurists who believed in technological progress, who – as the Japanese – also looked to the past., His model was the Shinto Ise temple which is 1,300 years old and is demolished and rebuilt every 20 years: it is old and new at the same time. Those architects thought of buildings and cities as part of a regenerative cycle of rebirth of nature, the model of the cell. Like a tree, the building would grow, change its leaves, and die. And the idea of metamorphosis hovered.
traditional beauty concept don’t know mono Included in that organicist architecture was: a deep sensibility—a sweet and painful beauty that lacks the sad spirit of Western Romanticism—that strikes us in times of loss. Is poems of fleeting: The climax moment of the Hanami party is not the cherry blossoms, but the shower of petals marking the end and restart of the cycle. For this reason, the day they began to break the plates of the Nakagin building, the street was filled with people with cameras and canvases on easels capturing the sunset of Kama (the same happens in parks when it rains flowers).
Metabolic Zen refers to minimalism: Kurokawa believed in the inherent beauty of the material and did not add embellishments or paint., It was a design designed for its minimalist expression: spherical window boxes stacked like the zigzag tower of the “washing machine”, And all. This opening to the outside—that which does not open—comes from tea-houses and temples: it is called marumado, Even the interiors are ascetic: the room in a Japanese wooden house has remained so for centuries, everything stripped of a space, a tatami on the floor. There is nothing left, even left, in these capsules.
But cities and buildings are not trees and the rigidity of the material meant that some of the works built by this movement were mostly demolished. A lesson is learned from the Nakagin tower that man is not yet ready to live like a bird in a cage.No matter how avant-garde and photogenic the illusion of a private micro-universe is (the art of the work crushed the functionality).
Shortly after its opening, the tower began to decay., Over the past 20 years, their traces were obvious: moss, rust, corrosion, internal and external leaks, exposed water pipes, chunks of concrete falling on the sidewalk and even an entire window: they laid a trap. . And they were left without hot water: they set up a mass bath on the ground floor. Some capsules lost the door and the owner didn’t bother to replace it. Since there was asbestos in the walls, they canceled the ventilation system. For major repairs, the capsules had to be removed, which was expensive: they could only be removed from top to bottom. And to replace those on the first floor, Upper 13 had to be removed: they patched it until it was almost deserted. It was one thing to admire the work from outside and another thing to live in it.,
Some of the capsules were refurbished by a lover of the building, Tatsuyuki Maeda, who began buying them until a deposit of fifteen in 2010 aimed to save the work. First they tried to propose it to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Already resigned, he hopes the Pompidou Center in Paris will include a capsule in his rooms. And he would take some of them to build a capsule mini-tower (a recycler, as dreamed up by the architect) on his small piece of land. Until months ago, 80 capsules were used as an office, second home or rehearsal room – they have excellent sound insulation – and 20 were permanent residents. The rest were warehouses or abandoned. In 2021 the owners voted to demolish.
However the design, as such, did not fail: it was a successful alternative with another use. The capsule hotel is a derivative of – and its miniaturization – that carried on around the world. The 176 in Japan is almost always full. Just as trees are scaled down to fit a home or garden, a capsule hotel is ultimately a bonsai tower. The Nakagin building was a prototype that aged rapidly and badly, but it also foreshadowed individualistic loneliness and a future of single-person dwellings.: Preview of the upcoming “Capsule World”.