The famous example of Japanese Metabolist architecture was headed for demolition—but a reprieve may be on the horizon.
Demolition has been considered since 2007, when the building’s then-management approved plans for it to be torn down, citing deteriorating conditions and the presence of asbestos. According to Japan Property Central, a Tokyo real-estate brokerage, “The construction company chosen to lead the redevelopment filed for bankruptcy shortly afterwards and the redevelopment plan was put on hold. By 2010 the discussion was raised again, but a growing divide between owners in favor of demolition and those in favor of preserving the existing structure has led to a standstill.”
Tatsuyuki Maeda, a member of the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Conservation and Regeneration Project, hopes the building will be spared both for its place in architectural history and because of its popularity with tourists. If he had his way, it would not only be preserved but improved, restored to its original state. He told CityLab in an email:
The capsule was originally intended to be replaced in 20 to 25 years, but 47 years have passed without replacement. There are many problems that cannot be solved without replacing the capsules, such as waterproofing of the capsule’s outer wall, asbestos removal, maintenance of the water supply pipe, the construction of new air conditioners, and seismic reinforcement.
Maeda currently owns 15 capsules in the building and hopes to tip the balance in favor of preservation. As of late August, he put the chances of its survival at about 50/50.