kurokawa’s capsule tower demolition

capsuletower1the 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.7nagasin 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

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