U2 studio assignment Fall 2009 Pieter Sijpkes Section.
Capsule Tower in Tokyo is being threatened with
demolition. Built in 1972, it is the most
of the Metabolist
movement in Japan. The building consists
of 140 prefabricated modules (or "capsules") which are each self-contained units (furnished with a bed and plumbing and electronic fixtures). Each capsule measures 2.3 m (8 ft) × 3.8 m (12 ft) × 2.1 m (7 ft) and functions as a small living or office space. The capules are attached by only four high strength bolts to two freestanding concrete stair and elevator towers. The idea at the time was that the individual capsules could be inserted and removed at will for maintenance or for complete removal and upgrading. These possibilities were never exercised , and due to degradation of the towers and due to the possibilities of higher density use of the site demolition and complete replacement is now on the horizon.
The capsule apartment is in a few ways similar to Moishe Safdie’s Habitat 67 in Montreal. Here 158 apartments were also created in several hundred prefabricated concrete boxes that were partly finished before being lifted in place. But the crucial structural difference with the Nagakin Capsule Tower is that in the Habitat structure the boxes rest on top of each other. The impression of standardization and ‘uniformity’ of the boxes is thus wrong-uniformity is only true in the external dimensions and form of the boxes. But the bottom boxes are radically different from the top ones because they have much more reinforcement in them than the top boxes because of the heavy loads they have to carry. This arrangement rules out the easy insertion of new boxes or extraction of individual boxes for repair or replacement.
Montreal is not Tokyo, and the Habitat units are much roomier than the Capsule apartment’s units, and even though the capsule towers feature some apartments made up of more than one unit, the majority of Habitat’s apartments occupy several interlinked boxes.
The idea of prefabrication, popular since WWII, and was tried out by many was driven by the belief that, like in the car and airplane industry, assembly-line techniques would lead to high quality, economically priced apartments affordable to all.
In fact, Habitat was built as a demonstration project of affordable housing for Expo’67. However, the cost of the project skyrocketed, and the owners of Habitat apartments these days are the wealthy; in several cases they were wealthy enough to acquire neighbouring units and combine them into many-roomed super units.
One good thing about the wealth of the Habitat owners is that they can afford to scrupulously maintain the complex. The stresses and strains that the boxes at various levels are subject to, in addition to the large surface of the boxes exposed to the elements, have led to many cracks in the boxes; these cracks are monitored on an almost daily schedule and are repaired religiously. Corrosion of the reinforcement could be catastrophic.
Before his death two years ago Kisho Kirowaka pleaded with the owners of the capsule hotel to sell it back to him. He offered them a return on their money, and hoped to do what was planned from the start: remove the (“worn out”) capsules and replace them with new, upgraded ones.
As he pointed out, this would be a vastly more economical, much less disruptive and environmentally friendly process than the demolition and replacement route that is being envisaged. Of course, it would also validate the original far-sightedness of the design.
In our U2 studio project we are
going to design a
structure, that will not be bedevilled by the difficulty of removing
change or repair like the Capsule apartments, nor by the extremely high
ongoing surveillance and maintenance of Habitat ’67.
Visions of pre-fabrication: Le Corbusier's hand, "Celestial Real Estate Corporation"
We are going to work on a floating, horizontal “tilted high rise” building that will consist of floating units that can easily be inserted and extracted by simply floating the unit in or out of its mooring place.
Instead of the gravity- controlled process of stacking, we will work on the buoyancy- controlled process of floating.
Sketch proposal IJburg Holland towing of a housing project
Interesting link: http://www.floatingstructures.com/
Lachine Canal and basins
outline; due Wednesday afternoon Sept 16 @1.30