Nakagin Capsule Tower slated for demolition starting April 12

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nakagin Capsule Tower in Chuo Ward, Tokyo

Demolition work for Nakagin Capsule Tower, known worldwide for its distinctive blocky appearance, is slated to begin April 12 in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, sources have said.

Designed by architect Kishi Kurokawa (1934-2007) and conceived as part of the Metabolism architectural movement he founded, the condominium tower’s demolition was officially decided after years of debate.

The tower, completed in 1972, has a total of 140 capsule-type residences.

The building’s striking appearance and spaceship-like interiors were featured in films, television shows, music videos and magazines. It also attracted many foreign visitors before the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Though the building was intended to evolve over time through the replacement of the capsules, none of them were ever replaced.

Alarmed over the condominium’s deteriorating condition, discussions among unit owners began to gain momentum in the 2000s over its demolition and replacement.

After a group of pro-preservation residents unsuccessfully searched for new owners, the tower was sold to a real estate developer in March last year. All tower residents had vacated the premises by March 10.

In cooperation with Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates and the Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project, formed by former unit owners, the real estate developer plans to donate some capsules to museums or use them as accommodation facilities. So far, about 80 Japanese and foreign museums, companies and individuals have made inquiries.

Project leader Tatsuyuki Maeda said, “We are in discussions with one of the world’s leading museums about becoming the first recipient [of a capsule].”