Contemporary Architecture

Kisho Kurokawa – Nagakin Capsule tower

About the architect:

  • Born in Kanie, Aichi, Kurokawa studied architecture at Kyoto University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1957.
  • Kurokawa received a master’s degree in 1959 from University of Tokyo.
  • Kurokawa then went on to study for a doctorate of philosophy, but subsequently dropped out in 1964.
  • Cofounded the metabolist movement  in 1960, whose members were known as Metabolists
  • was a radical Japanese avant -garde  (advance guard)movement pursuing the merging and recycling of architecture styles within an Asian context
  • Vision- cities of the future were characterized by large scale, flexible, and expandable structures that evoked the processes of organic growth

Philosophy of metabolism:

  1. Impermanence
  2. Materiality
  3. Details
  4. Receptivity

Nagakin Capsule tower:

  • Based on philosophy of metabolism.
  • first capsule architecture design.
  • originally designed as a Capsule Hotel to provide economical housing for businessmen working late in central Tokyo during the week.
  • 14-story high Tower has 140 capsules stacked at angles around a central core.


  • Install the capsule units into the concrete core
  • Units  detachable and replaceable
  • 1 capsule – 4×2.5m
  • Modified shipping  container –interior preassembled in factory

Metabolism in Nagakin Capsule Tower:

  • IMPERMANENCE:removable ,interchangeable  capsules
  • DETAILS – detailed connections
  • MATERIALITY– pipe work , ductwork were not hidden
  • RECEPTIVITY– building ready for change


  • New way of interpreting today’s culture-
  • Philosophy of   ‘both – and’ not ‘either-or’

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Contemporary Architecture

Kisho Kurokawa – National Art Center


  • Born in Nagoya in central Japan in 1934
  • President, The Japan Society of Landscape Design
  • Advisor, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • President, KKAA (Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates)


  • Graduated Kyoto University, B. / Arch. Course, Department of Architecture (1957),
  • Tokyo University, M. / Arch. Course, Graduate School of Architecture (1959)
  • Tokyo University, Dr. / Arch. Course, Graduate School of Architecture (1964).

His publication

  • Urban Design
  • Homo Movens
  • Thesis on Architecture I and II
  • The Era of Nomad
  • Philosophy of Symbiosis
  • Hanasuki
  • Poems of Architecture
  • Kisho Kurokawa Note
  • Revolution of City

“Philosophy of Symbiosis”, which was awarded the Japan Grand Prix of Literature, was first published in 1987 and was revised in 1991. The book  was cited Excellence from the AIA in 1992.

In 1960, at the age of 26, he made his debut into the world as one of the founders of the Metabolism Movement.

Since then, he has been advocating the paradigm shift from the Age of Machine Principle to the Age of Life Principle.


  • His concept he advocated such as Symbiosis, Metabolism, Information, Recycle, Ecology, Intermediate Space, Fractal, Ambiguity.
  • All are important concept based on Life Principle

Major works:

  • The National Ethnological Museum
  • Nagoya City Art Museum
  • Helix City
  • Osaka International Convention Center
  • Kisho Kurokawa’s Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama
  • The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama
  • The tower of the Pacific, Paris-Defense (1993)
  • Flower Hill Museum (1999)
  • Nagakin Apartments(1972)
  • The Japanese Nursing Association Building
  • National Art Center, Tokyo (2006)
  • Maggie`s Centre,England(2006)

National Art Center, Roppongi, Tokyo

  • Design / Construction:2000-2006
  • National Art Center, Tokyo is a perfect expression of his philosophy of  symbiosis.
  • “One of my intentions with the design was to be fuzzy. Great art and architecture should be fuzzy. If it is easy to understand, it is functional like a factory. People can say, ‘this is the entrance way, this is the exit.’ But this is not art. I wanted to create ambiguity and alittle bit of confusion. This is what makes peoplethink, or takes them into a maze.”
  • The fuzziness Kurokawa talks about can be seen in the wavy line of the art center’s facade. He has created a melodious surface that is, like waves or hills, harmonious but never repetitive.
  • Building Area :          12,989sqm
  • Total Floor Area :     49,846sqm
  • 2 basement floors + 6 floors
  • It is the largest exhibition space in a single building in Japan. Around 15,900 square meters
  • It is intended to feature several large exhibitions at once.
  • The facade itself is 100 percent transparent, but it also completely cuts out the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • Also extended the ironwood floor that is inside the building to the area outside the facade. That makes people feel very ambiguous and wonder whether they are inside or outside.
  • the real element of genius in this design remains the feature that will have the strongest effect on visitors — the facade. As a perfect expression of the symbiosis of exterior and interior, Kurokawa makes it work in both directions.
  • From the outside, its naturally undulating surface seems to react to the trees and the wind, while from the inside, it seems to dance around two large inverted concrete cones, which look like petrified tornadoes and are central to the functional requirements of the building.
  • Floor made from extremely durable Ulin ironwood imported from Borneo, this floor is designed to give the building an aged and even primitive texture that will exist alongside its obvious modernity. This symbiosis of primitive and modern is further developed by the use of wicker furnishings and a bamboo garden in a courtyard on the top floor, contrasting with such hi-tech features as cleaning robots and light-saving motion sensors.
  • They wanted a restaurant and a cafe in the atrium, so he decided to place them above.
  • To maximize the floor space below he simply reduced the base of each structure, which created the cone shapes.
  • The National Art Center, Tokyo will not be a space for archiving works of art, but is a space for exhibiting public open exhibits and travelling exhibits.
  • The building is made up of seven enormous column-less display rooms, each 2000m², a library, an auditorium, a restaurant, a cafe and a museum shop.
  • The jurying process for these types of exhibitions will begin in the basement, where works will be brought in one by one at the loading area and only the pieces selected will be brought by service elevator to the display blocks.

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