Saying Goodbye to Two Architectural Icons

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  • Tokyo is an ever-changing city. Japan’s seismic activity and the high costs of maintaining older buildings usually mean that developers prefer demolishing buildings and erect new ones. This has of course also resulted in a problem for Tokyo, which continuously struggles to maintain its heritage. After already losing some of its most iconic gems in recent years, like Harajuku Station, Tsukiji Fish Market, and Hotel Okura (which now is a glass skyscraper that looks exactly the same as any other building around it), Tokyo is once again on the verge of losing more iconic buildings.

    Marunouchi, Tokyo’s unrivaled financial district, is known for its beautiful aesthetic, which is preserved by the Japanese government because of its proximity to the Imperial Palace. The red-bricked Tokyo Station also looks over Marunouchi, making it one of the most photogenic places in the Japanese capital.

    While Marunouchi and Otemachi are dotted with skyscrapers, in the past the area did not have high-rise buildings. The first one to be built was the Tokio Marine Nichido Insurance Building. Standing 109 meters tall, the building was designed by Kunio Maekawa, one of Japan’s most famous and admired architects; and it’s, to this date, still considered one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in all Japan, usually appearing on magazine’s lists each time buildings are ranked.

    The building is striking thanks to its red-brick facade, which makes it pop among the glass buildings that surround it. Tokio Marine Holdings has, however, decided to demolish the building and construct a new one.

    While the fate of the Tokio Marine Nichido Insurance Building was decided quickly, the one of the famous Nakagin Capsule Tower had been hanging by a threat for a long time. In April, the owners association got enough votes to sell the land, signaling that the legendary building could be seeing its last days unless there is another action that ends up saving its fate. However, Nakgain Capsule Tower ran out of luck, and it was officially announced that the building would be demolished, the demolition process starting in March 2022.

    Nakagin Capsue Tower is a leading example of Japan’s metabolism movement, and it garnered attention and acclaimed since the moment it was built. The building has been featureed in movies, and continues to have a strong fanbase both locally and overseas.

    The building has many problems, though, from asbestos to water leaks; and the capsules, which were designed to be replaced every 25 years, have never been removed. Redeveloping the area has been under talks since 2005, and now Nakagin Capsule Tower is closer than ever to disappear.

    *Featured Image by nakagin_capsule_tower on Instagram
    : nakagin_capsule_tower/