Nakagin Capsule Tower: The Image of Sustainable Posthuman Sublime

By Chia-wen Kuo.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 19, 2016 $US5.00

We will discuss, in this paper, the cross-cultural phenomenon of Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower—the archetype of metabolism in Japanese architecture, built in 1972. Kurokawa designed it as a living organism that conglomerates a number of flexible removable capsules into one single living entity. In terms of human existences within postmodernity, Anne Burdick notes, “erasure and forgetting will become as important to the horizons of humanistic work as preservation and remembering” in her collaborative work Digital Humanities. In the ideal world of postmodernity, not only can memories be deleted and restored simultaneously but also recycled just as Capsule Tower was built to be erased and forgotten. Such premeditated disposability makes Capsule Tower sustainable, and it contains both the old and the new in order to create a labyrinthine assemblage that perennially welcomes any innovation as well as outward intrusion. In this way, Capsule Tower actualizes the sustainable symbiosis of human and machine as it mobilizes its inhabitants into replaceable nomads, who are encapsulated in a colossal piece of sustainable furniture. Therefore, Nakagin Capsule Tower is an incarnate of posthuman sublime as well as a Leibnizian being that recognizes the whole within each part—it encompasses all without devouring.

Keywords: Sustainable Architecture, Nakagin Capsule Tower, Posthumanism and Metabolism Movement in Japan

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 12, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 19, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 862.423KB)).

Chia-wen Kuo

Researcher, Permanent Peace and Development Association, Taipei, Taiwan