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The Nakagin Capsule Tower A1302 Acquired by The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

etc. Park Jiyoun Sept 05, 2023

SPACE September 2023 (No. 670) 

Nakagin Capsule Tower under dismantling / ©Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project, Image courtesy of SFMOMA 


On May 18, the capsule A1302 of the Nakagin Capsule Tower (covered in SPACE No. 652, 655) was transferred to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the U.S.. The building, designed by Kurokawa Kisho in 1972, consists of 140 cube capsules which the architect intended to replace every 25 years at the time of planning. However, due to changing ownership and replacement costs, only about 50 capsules have been replaced so far, and due to aging and safety issues, demolition proceeded from Apr. to the end of Sep. 2022. Fortunately, the ‘Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Preservation and Regeneration Project’ team secured 23 capsules before full demolition and instigated the ‘Capsule Metabolism Project’ to donate the capsules for free after refurbishing them under the supervision of Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates. The project team hoped that the capsules could be evenly distributed throughout various countries such as the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and also considered using them for other purposes besides accommodation and exhibitions. The acquisition by SFMOMA is the first case of a capsule being transferred to a country other than Japan. The museum has not yet announced a specific plan for its use or display, but they have also secured a part of the 1972 series by photographer Minami Noritaka, which documents the interior and exterior of the Nakagin Capsule Tower from 2010 to 2021. They also possess materials from Maki Fumihiko, who is classified as a metabolist architect alongside Kurokawa, and contemporary architecture groups Superstudio and Archigram, making various connections possible. In addition, two Japanese companies have acquired capsules, with plans to revive and redevelop them as movable trailers and create a separate exhibition hall for the capsules centring on events around the capsules. by Park Jiyoun