So much for the Capsule Hotel

A Year in the Metabolist Future of 1972

The Nakagin Capsule Tower was portrayed in the media as a sign of 'the capsule era'. With its avant-garde aesthetic it proposed a mutant quality, offering the opportunity of adaptation over time. Theoretically it increased the ability to configure the building to a world accelerating towards a post-industrial society; the icon was quickly labelled 'the future of housing'. It was the tallest building in the block. Visible from afar, with its sci-fi appearance, the tower stood near the highway like a machine from the future. [...]

The individual capsules don't have hot water supply. For bathing, the options are either to get a water heater on your own, or to use the communal shower on the entrance floor. Most residents opt for the second option. After the degradation of the pipes, a few years ago a new network of pipelines was installed. The rotted pipes have led to numerous leaks. Many of the capsules were thus unusable, rotting from the inside. Moreover, the renovation works were done without much care: doors were sawn into so as to pass and connect the new pipes. It seems that with every repair, the building is falls further into disrepair. [...]

Emergency exits were transformed into smoking rooms with ashtrays and chairs. Up the stairs you will find clothes hanging on wires, shoe cabinets, shelves with old and mouldy books, sets of boxes, huge suitcases, bikes and even fences around the doors. The balcony on the third floor, above the office level, is an abandoned platform. Dirty water and rotten capsule remnants are its sole contents.

More than half of the capsules are abandoned and many are 'sealed' from the outside, due to the risks they present. Others, however, do not even have locks and it is easy to enter and see the insides in varying degrees of advanced decomposition: walls are coming off and there is garbage, mould and moisture everywhere. From the emergency stairs on the outside you can see that the capsules are slowly rotting.

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3 Responses:

  1. Thomas Lord says:

    BARF. If a city just SPURs development to move some place like the East Bay Forward, they get what they deserve.

    Hey, I'll bet it's cheap to live there, though, amiright?

  2. aoseamilk says:

    It's not to late to stay there if that's something you dream about.

  3. the hatter says:

    It's a wonderful physical manifestation of us programmers' perpetual struggle, spending extra resources to make reusable, expandable, modular systems that are destined to fall into disuse before any of those features are taken advantage of. Each damaged/mouldy/sealed capsule was carefully designed so it can be removed and replaced with a shiny new one without disturbing the others. This has not happened once since it was built. I wonder if there ever was a stock of replacements, or a mothballed production line, or just a plan that they could totally just knock up a new set of modules with a new set of tools and processes.

    the hatter

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