unplugged for the first and last time


After 50 years, architect Kisho Kurokawa’s most famous metabolist vision for an evolving architecture has been dismantled — this week the first pods of his iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower have been unplugged for the first and last time, many of them headed to museums for individual display. It is a bittersweet ending for the famous pair of towers, as the 144 modular ‘living cells’ never meant to live permanently at the same plot tucked away in Tokyo‘s Ginza neighborhood, but were intended to be continually unbolted from the central shaft to travel between the many other capsule towers which had sadly never been built.


The concept was avant-garde when the project was built in 1970, although after decades without proper maintenance, the structure has outlived modern construction guidelines and has been rendered dated. Public efforts to salvage the tower have led to the establishment of the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Preservation / Regeneration Project (see here), which has been renovating capsules in place since 2014 (see designboom’s previous coverage here).


nakagin capsule tower museums

capsules to be renovated and shipped to museums


Thanks to the efforts of the preservation and regeneration project, many of the capsules will be fitted to become a new place to stay, while others will be restored by Kurokawa Architects & Associates (see here) and shipped to museums. (There is already one capsule on display at the Museum of Modern Art Saitama, see image at the end of the article). According to the team, the units’ original designs were meticulously studied to determine how each pod would be removed with minimal damage — a difficult undertaking especially in such a crowded urban context as Ginza area. 

nakagin capsule tower museumsimage via twitter

viewing the dismantling process, now underway

Already, a number of capsules have been removed from the Nakagin tower. In the video below which had been shared on twitter, a user writes: ‘The third capsule was separated from the main body and dropped to the ground!’ 


nakagin capsule tower regenerationimage courtesy of museum of modern art saitama



previous coverage: May 2021, July 2021, July 2009