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Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan

In the late 1950s a small group of young Japanese architects and designers joined forces under the title of "Metabolism". The traditional laws of fixed forms and function were obsolete. Much of the work produced by this movement is primarily concerned with housing issues with its characteristic features known as modularity. Nakagin Tower, designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa and completed in 1972, is the first and best example of capsule architecture built for actual use. The 14-story high Tower has 140 capsules stacked at angles around a central core. Kurokawa developed the technology to install the modules (or "capsules") into the concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, as well as making the units detachable and replaceable. Each capsule is a small living or office space that measures 2.3m × 3.8m × 2.1m. No units have been replaced since the original construction. The one-man-room capsule has a circular window, a built-in bed and bathroom unit, and is complete with TV, radio and alarm clock. The capsule interior was pre-assembled in a factory then hoisted by crane and fastened to the concrete core shaft. The Nakagin Capsule Tower has been short-listed for the World Heritage by Docomomo International (International Working Party for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement.) since 1996. On April 15, 2007, the building's residents voted to demolish the building and replace it with a much larger, more modern tower. In the interest of preserving his design, Kurokawa proposed taking advantage of the flexible design by "unplugging" the existing boxes and replacing them with updated units therefore proving and using "Metabolism" theory. The plan was supported by the major architectural associations of Japan, including the Japan Institute of Architects. So Kurokawa's innovative approach becomes very popular and wide-spread in Japan.

By Lilit Khalatyan,