A building designed for disposal now faces its overdue demise, to the outrage of some occupants. In 1972, architect Kisho Kurokawa imagined a Tokyo apartment block as a kit of parts of sorts: each of the 140 units could be removed and replaced at will. Now, the Nakagin Capsule Tower stands as a relic to this architectural approach. “The zeitgeist of metabolism is frozen, literally encapsulated in this building,” said Christian Dimmer, professor of Urbanism at Tokyo University.
With asbestos insulation and tube TVs in the walls, the tower desperately needs TLC or, as some owners angle, demolition. Others have banded together to preserve the building by forming the Save Nakagin Capsule Tower Project. Any decision must be made by an 80 percent majority of capsule owners. “We’re trying to buy each capsule one by one,” said project founder Masato Abe. “Each room counts as one vote.”