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Capsule Tower’s Demolition Stalls

August 6, 2007

by Yuki Solomon

Admirers of architect Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, located in Tokyo’s affluent Ginza district, have won a temporary reprieve—but they still have their work cut out for them to save the 1972-vintage condominium building, whose demolition was announced in April.

The Capsule Tower is actually two buildings, one 11 stories and the other 13 stories, which are made of detachable modular units clustered around two spines. It is one of the only built examples of modular Metabolist architecture. Seibei Yamashita, director of the condo management board, is amenable to detaching some or all of the capsules so that they can be exhibited or installed elsewhere. But the board will not fund such an effort—nor does it appear that Kurokawa, despite his interest in the building’s fate, has the cash to do it himself.

For the moment, plans to demolish the building have been put on hold because Yamashita is struggling to bring all of the condominium owners to the discussion table so they can vote on a demolition date.

Kurokawa’s political career has also stalled. Both he and his wife, the actress Ayako Wakao, lost their bids in the July 29 national election for seats in the Upper House of parliament. Kurokawa ran on the ticket of his “Symbiosis New Party,” which he founded earlier this year during a failed bid for the governorship of Tokyo. Undeterred by his losses, Kurokawa says that he will next try for the House of Representatives.

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