Favourite Things #25: Nakagin Capsule Tower Building
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
This girl is the first fully architectural 'favourite thing' - and marks the end of an iconic Tokyo building, an idealistic version of a future that never came to pass. A contemporary wood girl honouring a moment in architectural history.
The relationship between the built environment and humans and how they weather over time has become a lifelong interest. Tokyo's organic, ever changing surface means that there is always something to see and feel whilst wandering - it continues to hold my attention like no other place. The price of land has increased the rapidity of demolition and regeneration, some buildings are appreciated for their worth and renovated, but many torn down for coin parking (often whilst the rest of the block is bought over time to make a larger plot) or to make more efficient use of the land. It is a sad thing to see a building go, none so more than in the case of the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building.
One of the few examples of Japanese Metabolism, a postwar architectural movement, it was designed by Kisho Kurokawa and built in the early 1970's. Metabolism recognised the way cities and their inhabitants changed over time and embraced the renewal and regeneration of the built environment - celebrating impermanence as much as in other aspects of life. The Nakagin had 140 prefabricated capsules connected to one of the two main shafts on two interconnected concrete towers. Each capsule measures 2.5m x 4m with a 1.3m diameter window at the end. They could be connected to create larger spaces, but were meant as living pods for salarymen. Each had a cooker, fridge TV and tape deck built into one side, a tiny bathroom unit set into a corner and beds under the windows.
As an attempt at sustainable architecture the capsules were supposed to be repaired and or replaced after a certain amount of time, something that never happened as the practicalities and cost of doing so made it impractical.
Over the years some capsules became unliveable, but some were still occupied. The water was disconnected ten years ago, and leaks and falling debris meant that it was covered with netting whilst attempts at saving it went on for years. 2022 finally sees its dismantling - capsules will be going to museums and other places to be appreciated - something I think the architect would have been ok with.
My 'favourite things' wood girl series share the places and things I love, a favourite motif or theme, or are inspired by a microseason. Turned from American Tulipwood, a sustainable and interestingly grained timber, the pieces are turned by a production wood turner in the UK to my designs, then painted by me, a British artist. They are approximately twice the size of my regular wood girls, and finished in a semi-matt acrylic protective top coat.
This large wood girl is approximately 34cm in height. Favourite Things girls are numbered on the base, this one is #25.
My pieces are painted in a naïve and simple style, with visible brush strokes and differing paint consistencies. It is important to note that these dolls are made from real wood which will have naturally occurring markings and grain, and sometimes there will be small amount of bleeding along the grain, or knots, which is to be expected when using untreated wood - please make sure you consult the pictures carefully before purchasing. She has been finished in a top coat of matt acrylic.
PLEASE NOTE: Wood girls should be kept away from water which can damage the wood and painted surface, and also away from direct heat/ sunlight which also can affect the surface colour and the timber itself.