Nakagin Capsule Tower

The Nakagin Capsule Tower designed by the Japanese Architect Kisho Kurokawa is a mixed-use residential and office tower located in the center of Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 1972, the building is a rare remaining example of Japanese Metabolism, an architectural movement emblematic of Japan’s postwar cultural resurgence. It was the world’s first example of capsule architecture built for permanent and practical use.

Architecture (is) a theatre stage setting where the leading actors are the people, and to dramatically direct the dialogue between these people and space is the technique of designing.

– Kisho Kurokawa

Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa Photographs

Interior Pictures by Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

© Noritaka Minami

The 140 capsules are hung on the concrete towers that contain the vertical communications; they are identical, prefabricated steel cells filled with bath unit, conditioning system and colour television. Constructed at Osaka, they were transported to Tokyo by truck. The assembly time for each capsule was three hours. (Within one month the capsules were all sold, as city pied-à- terre for business men, professional people, etc.).

Nakagin Capsule Tower. Article by Kisho Kurokawa Architects

The Nakagin Capsule Tower is the world’s first capsule architecture built for actual use. Capsule architecture design, establishment of the capsule as room and insertion of the capsule into a mega-structure, expresses its contemporaneousness with other works of liberated architecture from the later 1960’s, in particular England’s Archigram Group, France’s Paul Memon, and Yona Friedman

The Nakagin Capsule Tower takes on the challenge of the issue of whether mass production can express a diverse new quality. The Tower also strives to establish a space for the individual as a criticism to the Japan that modernized without undergoing any establishment of an “self”.

Kurokawa developed the technology to install the capsule units into a concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, as well as making the units detachable and replaceable. The capsule is designed to accommodate the individual as either an apartment or studio space, and by connecting units can also accommodate a family. Complete with appliances and furniture, from audio system to telephone, the capsule interior is pre-assembled in a factory off-site. The interior is then hoisted by crane and fastened to the concrete core shaft.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower realizes the ideas of metabolism, exchangeability, recycleablity as the prototype of sustainable architecture.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower has been short-listed for the World Heritage by the Inter-national Committee of Docomomo International since 1996.

Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa Plans Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa Gallery Nakagin Capsule Tower Video

Waterloo Arch. 392 Winter ’12 Urban Precedent #10 Nakagin Capsule Tower

About Kisho Kurokawa

Kisho Kurokawa was a leading Japanese Architect whose work was influenced by both east and west. Author, philosopher, teacher, print-maker, speed-boat enthusiast and translator of architectural books, notably those of Jane Jacobs and Charles Jencks, Kurokawa was an intellectual who got to build in a big way. In 1962 he established Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates. Upon the decease of Kisho Kurokawa in 2007, his son Mikio decided to carry on his will and to succeed his position representing the firm.


by Roberto Ortiz de Landazuri


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