travels

Capsule world.

Capsule world.

This building, as if made up of washing machines piled on top of each other, is located in the modern Minato district of Tokyo. The house once housed apartments and offices, but today it is a tourist attraction in Tokyo. The press service of the Glavgosexpertiza of Russia will tell about the dramatic fate of the famous capsule tower “Nakagin”.
In the middle of the XX century, an architectural style called “metabolism”appeared in Japan. You thought correctly about the metabolism of living beings: this process has a lot in common with the principles by which the metabolic buildings were built. The houses were made up of modules that could be easily replaced with new ones when the old ones fell into disrepair. Metabolic architects perceived their buildings, and cities in general, as living organisms with all their processes. And in a living organism, cells that have lost the ability to act die off, giving way to young and healthy ones.
One of the founders of the metabolism style was the progressive architect Kisho Kurokawa. In 1972, he built the world’s first capsule office and residential building, the Nakagin Tower. The tower is quite low, moreover, in fact, it is two interconnected buildings with a height of 11 and 13 floors. They are based on central shafts, similar to trunks. They are equipped with elevators, ventilation systems, and other infrastructure. Adjacent to the ramparts, like branches, are 140 capsules-blocks measuring 4 by 2.5 m (that is, about 10 sq. m.), mounted on a concrete frame. They are fastened with only four bolts. The entire infrastructure is quickly “attached” to the capsule. Each of the modules-a” box”, similar to a washing machine with a single window – porthole in half a wall-is a separate apartment (or mini-office). These modules can be changed as they wear out, and if necessary, they can be bonded together, creating new shapes and spaces. However, during the entire existence of the tower, this has never had to be done.
The capsules were arranged as self-contained apartments with a bed, a folding table, a kitchen area with a sink and a tiny bathroom. It also had air conditioning, a telephone, a TV and an audio system. This unit is cramped, like a third-class cabin, but the space is organized very functionally. The interior decoration, which resembled the design of a spaceship, was made at a factory in Shiga Prefecture, where the capsules themselves were made. Fully finished modules were transported along the highway on special trailers, and then “hung” on the building with the help of construction cranes.
When the” assembled “(the language does not turn to say” built”) building began to be inhabited, housing here cost one and a half times more expensive than ordinary Tokyo apartments, but it was sold out very quickly. As you can imagine, the tower was inhabited mainly by young bachelors who spent the whole day somewhere in the office, and returned home only to spend the night. Families-especially with children, corpulent people and people suffering from claustrophobia, life in the Nakagin Tower was strictly contraindicated.
In general, it should be noted that small-sized apartments are considered the absolute norm in modern Japan. But it was the cramped conditions that the residents of Nakagin complained about when they voted to relocate and demolish their tower in 2007. They were also dissatisfied with the fact that the building structures contain carcinogenic asbestos, that the finishing of the capsules is made of plastic, and this is very environmentally friendly, and the fact that the building is physically and morally outdated.
Kisho Kurokawa decided to save his creation. He proposed a large-scale reconstruction of the tower, and his project was supported by the professional community, including the Japanese Institute of Architecture. But the general enthusiasm faded when they made an estimate and realized how much this idea would cost.
Meanwhile, most of the residents left the tower, abandoning their apartments. For more than ten years, the building has been empty, but its fate has not been decided. While the capsule tower plays the role of one of the Tokyo attractions, and many tourists come to see the strange structure and take pictures against its background. Perhaps this is what saves Nakagin from demolition, which is actually atypical for Japan: most of the buildings here are demolished and rebuilt every thirty or forty years, so there is practically no historical development in Tokyo. So the empty “Nakagin”, which is almost half a century old, can be considered not only an architectural monument, but also a long-lived building.