Capsule House K Models

Capsule House K has never received the level of attention that the Nakagin Capsule Tower has enjoyed, and though about to change with the imminent start of a monthly rental scheme, it has never had the volume of visitors that for the Capsule Tower has resulted in a large body of photographs, commentary, art and artefacts. Despite this, Capsule House K has been the subject of several physical models and at least one digital model.

Nakagin Capsule Tower Wooden Model (1996)

This 1/100 scale model of an early Nakagin Capsule Tower concept featuring four towers and integrated walkway has a model of Capsule House K attached on one side. The model is from the collection of the Paris Centre Pompidou, gifted to them by Kisho Kurokawa and Associates in 1997. The model measures 65 x 120 x 70 cm.

Kisho Kurokawa Mini Model

Kurokawa san is no longer a young man in this photograph, so it is not an early model. It is, however, the smallest model!

The Delft Model (2010)

This model appears in many places, with the same three photographs circulating on the web for many years now with no attribution whatsoever. After a bit of detective work I am pleased to be able to reconnect the model and the photos with their originators Peter Smisek, Robert-Jan Kustermans, Siriluck Songsri and Emilie van Spronsen. The model was constructed as part of a design project at Delft University of Technology, which leads me to name it “The Delft Model”.

And what a great model it is. To my eye this is the most detailed of the models and looks highly accurate and very professional. Of note are the fine details of the capsule panels and window frames, circular window glass domes and even the roof terrace seating. The inside of the model is reported to be just as detailed, though sadly not visible. At the edge of one of the photos is a wooden model of a capsule internal frame steelwork.

Photographer Peter Smisek.

The model-study went better. While it sounds rather seductive, we had to make a 1:33 model of an existing “House of the Future”. I recall that I persuaded my teammates to choose the Capsule House in Karuizawa, Japan by Kisho Kurokawa. It was built in the 1972 at the height of Kurokawa’s metabolist phase in which he used the idea of an easily transportable and replaceable capsules as an image for the new, dynamic city. In his own holiday retreat, these capsules had bedrooms (ensuite), a kitchen and the last capsule even included a traditional Japanese tea-ceremony room, tatami mats and all (and it all fitted perfectly). The living room was in the concrete core from which the capsules were suspended. The capsules were covered with Cor-ten steel (that’s rusty for non-architects). In real life the model is all glue, wood and plastic, of course.

Well then, a big thank  you to Robert-Jan Kustermans, Siriluck Songsri and Emilie van Spronsen for being cool partners is model-making.

The sad part is, of course the fact that we’ve really done our best on the interior, but you can’t even see that, because the model is glued shut (Robert Notrott, the instructor does NOT like removable roofs). So now, our model is actually known “The one whose great interior you cannot see”. Even professor van Gameren said so.

Peter Smisek, from his blog entry 30 January 2010 “House of the Future OR How are the Mightly Fallen”

Jess Morrey Model (2014)

This clean architectural model was created by Jess Morrey as part of her undergraduate studies. One of the capsules is modelled with an open roof, revealing the detailed interior. Capsules are held in place using magnets – a nice touch that allows the model to demonstrate the interchangeable/replaceable nature of capsule architecture. She has also used an innovative approach to modelling the steep ground on which Capsule House K is built.

Photographer Jess Morrey. Source twitter.

Naomi Cripps Model (2021?)

This superbly detailed model is by Naomi Cripps of the University of Portsmouth for her AUTOPSY project. The model features a removable roof on one capsule allowing the internal bathroom wall to be seen. The tea ceremony room and side wall are removed, affording a view inside the model of the walls and floors of the main part of the building. A really creative use of materials throughout, textured card used for the rusted COR-TEN steel capsules, gravel used for the stone chimney stack and lenses used for the capsule windows. Also, great solution to the problem of modelling the steep ground and a nice touch with the trees. Check out her blog for a description of the project with many more photographs.

Photographer Naomi Cripps. Source

Taichi Sugiyama Model (2021)

Taichi Sugiyama san (杉山太一) of Waseda University built this model, which blurs the boundary between art and architectural modelling. In this, the steep slope of the ground is represented by the hands, which also signify the necessity for human cooperation in the fulfilment of metabolism. This is best explained by Sugiyama san himself, which I have attempted to translate below. The photographs show some of his source materials, and part of the process of creating the hands.

Photographer Taichi Sugiyama. Source twitter.

A translation of the text on the project poster:


“This is a part of Kisho Kurokawa’s capsule series. Metabolism is an architectural movement that advocates the idea of architecture as a metabolic process. It anticipates the future of society by proposing architecture that grows and develops on an urban scale, with multi-site living. However, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is not structurally designed to be mobile, and Capsule House K has never been mobile. Metabolism remains unfulfilled without human intervention. It is an idea that is based on the cooperation of many people – residents, administrators, managers, owners, technicians, etc. – and it can never be achieved by the building itself. This is why I used the hands as a symbol to express the need for human intervention. This is also a representation of the actual slope.

In spite of these complexities, the Nakagin Capsule Tower and other capsule architecture is still very space-like, and because of its iconic shape, I am somewhat attached to it. In this project, I used transparent rails to represent the movement of the capsules as the building evolves and changes shape.

Also, with respect to Kisho Kurokawa’s challenging stance, I decided to create a very challenging model. It was a challenging model to make.”