Nakagin Capsule Tower to be demolished from March 2022

The iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza, designed by the late and great Kisho Kurokawa, will reportedly be demolished from March 2022. After years of disagreement, the capsules owners decided to sell the 49-year old condo-style apartment building to a real estate company this spring. That company will demolish it and build something new in its place.

 

The building was cited as a leading example of Japan’s metabolist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The 140 capsule units were assembled in a factory in Gifu Prefecture and driven 450 kilometers to downtown Tokyo where they were affixed to two central cores. 

The capsules were marketed to wealthy businesspeople as a crash-pad for late nights and initially offered hotel-like services and amenities. In the past few decades, however, the building fell into decline and decay. Repairs could not be carried out due to the immense cost involved and the lack of funds put aside by the capsule owners. 

A divide grew between the capsule owners who wanted to preserve the landmark structure and those that preferred to see it demolished and sold. The preservation movement was dealt a final blow in 2018 when the leasehold land underneath the building was sold to a limited liability company. The new landlord promptly informed the capsule owners of their intent to redevelop the site and would not approve any capsule resales (some land leasehold types can give the landowner the right to approve or reject the sale or transfer of the apartments built atop that land). Capsule owners were effectively held hostage as the LLC began to buy up capsules from willing sellers. 

In 2019 the preservation faction had found a foreign buyer who expressed interest in buying the land and building to preserve it, but the discussions fell through. 

Source: Zakzak, June 15, 2021.

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