MAS Context Fall Talks 2022

Nakagin Capsule Tower: Japanese Metabolist Landmark on the Edge of Destruction

November 16, 2022 at 6PM


Film screening of Nakagin Capsule Tower: Japanese Metabolist Landmark on the Edge of Destruction (2010) directed by Rima Yamazaki. Screening will take place at the Chicago Architecture Center lecture hall (111 E. Wacker Dr. Chicago, IL 60601).


Mas event 2022 1972 accumulations 05

A905, 2018. © Noritaka Minami.

Built in 1972 by Kisho Kurokawa, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is a rare, long standing example of Metabolist architecture. Known as the first Japanese architectural movement, Metabolism manifested in 1960 through critic Noboru Kawazoe and five architects, Kurokawa being the youngest among them. Together they envisioned a new direction for future Japanese architecture and urbanism, designing plans with large, flexible and expandable structures, the style of which is beautifully demonstrated by the Nakagin Capsule Tower. The building is composed of two concrete core towers which 140 capsules are plugged into, all of which were prefabricated and designed to be removable and replaceable. This portrait, filmed in 2010, gathers context surrounding the tower from its residents as well as Kurokawa's colleagues, friends and family as they debate the current issues with the structure and argue the merits of both preservation and demolition. Tracing the history of postwar Japanese architecture and reviewing the characteristics of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, this documentary examines the meaning of Metabolism and Kurokawa's meticulous methods within the movement.

A Q&A with architect and author Naomi Pollock, architectural and design historian John Zukowsky, and photographer Noritaka Minami will follow the screening.

Thanks to the Chicago Architecture Center for hosting this program.


Directed by
Rima Yamazaki

Nobuo Abe
Arata Isozaki
Toyo Ito
Toru Kawamura
Kisho Kurokawa (archive footage)
Mikio Kurokawa
Takayuki Sekine
Hiroyuki Suzuki
Seibee Yamashita

Produced by
Michael Blackwood

Cinematography by
Rima Yamazaki

Film Editing by
Rima Yamazaki