Step inside Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo, a 1972 collection of 140 washing machine-like compartments designed to be a progenitor for future urban planning, and find 100 square feet of '60s-style modularity, with cabinetry from a Jetsons home and portholes from a cruise ship cabin. The capsules were meant to be affordable pied-à-terres for businessmen who live in the suburbs, units to be replaced every 25 years and "a new, flexible way to accommodate the rising Japanese economy," writes Co.Exist, which recently showcased the work of Noritaka Minami, a photographer documenting the living arrangements of Nakagin's tenants. Nowadays the units are everything from cheap primary homes to office spaces, and with his 2011 1972 series, Minami offers glimpses into the home lives of the wide range of people who pay rent here. Photos, below.
While nice enough in theory, there are many reasons why such a building technique never caught fire in the architecture world: "It's extremely difficult to repair the plumbing and service lines, because of the design: there's nothing like it," Minami told Co.Exist. Plus, despite the small footprint of each individual dwelling, the building itself doesn't make the greatest use of the airspace it occupies. Oh, and none of the windows open. "There was a historic heatwave that was going through the city, and the particular capsule that I visited, the air conditioning was broken," Minami says. "It was like a sauna inside." Hey, still beats living in an actual Dumpster.