The mid 20th century was a time of great experimentation in architecture, a time when architects set out to create habitats for the brave new world, tearing all bonds of architectural tradition in the process.
The Nakagin Tower, part of the so called Metabolist Architecture spearheaded by Kisho Kurokawa, is perhaps the most famous building that sprung out of these social experiments.
The building follows the axioms of Metabolist philosophy. It consists of two separate towers which serve as support to 140 prefabricated capsules. Each capsule is one self-contained tiny apartment. Original idea postulated that capsules could be eventually replaced by newer models, keeping living standards in the building constantly up to date. The original target demographic were bachelor salarymen. The capsules were fully furnished in up to the minute fashion, including such amenities as a kitchen stove, a refrigerator, a television set, and a reel-to-reel tape deck.
Elegant as an abstract concept, and beautiful in design to other architects, the tower turned out to be almost unbearable to its inhabitants. Tiny apartments, 8 × 12 × 7 ft, they were constantly cramped, and the giant concrete shell was ugly and dehumanizing. In addition, maintenance costs started to pile up, and value or real-estate, in center of famous and expensive Ginza district, to plummet.
The future of the building is at the moment uncertain. In April of 2007 it was slated for demolition. The notion caused an uproar in the international architecture community, which still considers the building a masterpiece. Kurokawa led the campaign for its preservation till the end of his life. He even suggested the replacement of original capsules with a smaller number of more spacious modules. The financial crisis has provided a temporary salvation for the building, as investors for the replacement haven't been founded yet.