I used to go by this concrete capsule Tower of Doom on my way to work everyday.
This Pod ‘Hotel’ of 1972 Offers a Glimpse at the Future That Never Was
ArchDaily — architecture classics — Nakagin Capsule Tower
Architect Kisho Kurokawa was very innovative in his creation of the Nakagin Capsule Tower in 1972, which was the first capsule architecture design. The module was created with the intention of housing traveling businessmen that worked in central Tokyo during the week. It is a prototype for architecture of sustainability and recycleability, as each module can be plugged in to the central core and replaced or exchanged when necessary.
Built in the Ginza area of Tokyo, a total of 140 capsules are stacked and rotated at varying angles around a central core, standing 14-stories high. The technology developed by Kurokawa allowed each unit to be installed to the concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts, which keeps the units replaceable. Each capsule measures 4 x 2.5 meters…more…
The tacky Tower of Doom is often heralded by foreigners as a “brilliant” example of space-saving modern architecture—a classic worthy of being, short-listed for the World Heritage by the Inter-national Committee of Docomomo International since 1996*.
From time to time, I visit a design office located in the pod tower and there are several caveats seldom mentioned about the building.
• 1) The concrete pod shells do not have insulation or vapor barriers. It’s just raw concrete covered inside with plastic-y panels.
• 2) That space-age “porthole’ window is a single pane that is screenless, un-tinted, and faces into torrid Tokyo sun from 10am to sunset. The only cross ventilation comes from leaving the unit’s front door open to the poorly-vented hallway.
• 3) Besides baking insanely hot sun, the windows face directly onto the “Shuto”–Tokyo’s main expressway is located front of the tower and noisy trains are a stone’s away also.
• 4) The Tower smells funky because the water and sewer pipes are cracked and not maintained. Without insulation and vapor barriers, many units have toxic black mold problems as well as issues with degrading fireproofing made of asbestos. Basically, it was a great idea but bad housing.
In case you were wondering, the current price for one crappy unit is 480,000,000 yen ($492,450 USD), but the condo association of the building has been considering demolition for almost 10 years. Oddly, my father briefly considered purchasing a unit when it was new in 1972 for about $30,000 USD, but he backed out of the deal because the building’s construction was so slap-dash and poorly executed.