Japanese Micro Modular Apartments 40 Years Old

A small group of architects in post-war Japan, trying to overcome problems that plagued traditional urban planning, created the Nakagin Capsule Tower, a building containing 140 modular unit capsules of just over 100 square feet each. It’s intent was to provide housing for businessmen who needed an urban home during the week. Originally designed in 1972 so the capsules would be replaced every 25 years, today half the modular units are offices, and the others function as inexpensive housing and weekend second homes. Photographer Noritaka Minami, who has documented the tower, says it was supposed to begin a trend of small living spaces but is the only building of its kind, and for good reason: The floorplan does not maximize space, and, “It’s extremely difficult to repair the plumbing and service lines, because of the design: there’s nothing like it,” says Minima. Another drawback is the porthole windows in each modular unit do not open, according to fastcoesixt.com. Minima visited the complex in 2010 during a heat wave, MHProNews understands, and in one of the units the air conditioning did not work. “It was like a sauna inside,” he says.

(Photo credit: fastcoexist.com/Noritaka Minami–Nakagin Capsule Tower)

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