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With words such as ‘organism’, ‘cell’, ‘fabric’ and ‘regeneration’, Japan’s Metabolist movement articulated a distinct and idiosyncratic aesthetic for their projects and defined a new architectural vocabulary.
Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower is an exemplary expression of this vocabulary. However, from the moment of its completion in 1972, the utopian structure was a fascinating yet wholly anachronistic remnant of a past future, struggling to survive. In 2013, we had the opportunity to live there for almost a year, to share the experience of everyday life in the building with its remaining residents.
Flagship of a Metabolist future
Metabolism’s rise and fall is bookended by two important events a decade apart. Its first manifesto dates from 1960 and marks the genesis of its theoretical formulation. Ten years later, theory evolved into practice with the Expo70 in Osaka. The event’s significance went far beyond the movement and came to be seen as an important moment in the definition and understanding of contemporary Japan.