the word iconic is flung around when talking about buildings scheduled for demolition far too often for anyone’s good, but in the case of kurokawa’s capsule building in tokyo, the attribute is entirely justified. the building almost is tokyo in the early seventies — energetic, looking toward the future, off the wall, even a bit mad. this capsule building, and others like it offered a blueprint for living, designed to cope with the dreadful overcrowding threatening to swamp tokyo’s residents. the capsule lifestyle — inspired by nasa’s space program; — and a 2001 space odyssey moulded plastic aesthetic which was often interpreted in the western press of the time as symptomatic of the problem, rather than a serious solution.
kurokawa later valiantly defended the work, not as something stuck in the sensibilities of its time, but as an early example of sustainable architecture. he sees the work as something which can last, with a will, for another hundred years. it is telling that he likens the sustainability of the building, to the sustainability of the space shuttle program… sad then, that the current owners, mostly beneficiaries of the original owners, have sold the building to an american hedge fund company whose only interest it seems is to have the building demolished in favour of making a quick buck. kurokawa’s response has been to encourage two japanese hedge funds to offer to buy out the americans, securing the future for the capsules. the architect conveys his worries about the future of the building in this video, encouraging supporters to go and sign the petition organised by architecture news — now closed i think — but you can see the video he recorded just before his death below — an impassioned plea for sustainability
as of this posting date, demolition is still imminent