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New Sky Building

Tokyo, Japan
1 of 15

Altough not as famous as Kisho Kurokawa's emblematic Nakagin Capsule Tower, the ominous New Sky Building (aka Sky Building No.3; or Warship building) designed by Yoji Watanabe is one of the jewels from the Metabolist movement.


The building completed in 1972 in Shinjuku features bolt-on units and balconies characteristic of Metabolism's ideal of modularity. Its naval appearance isn't accidental as Watanabe, supposedly born on a US navy ship, borrowed techniques from submarine building. The theme culminates in the roof design which features a battleship deck-looking floor, with a defining submarine sail-like concrete structure.


While Yoji Watanabe was not part of the metabolist group, his New Sky Building shares a similar design parti with the Nagakin Tower - modular capsules are affixed to a main circulation core. While the core remains as a permanent structure, the implicit idea of the building lies in the continual replacement of the capsules. There are several capsules that make up a single living unit in the Blue Sky building - 4 such apartments occupy every level, as shown in the plan. The larger sized units in the New Sky Building accommodate different modes of living and other programs, thus broadening its appeal to a wider range of people. One apartment has now been converted to a shop for computer gamers. There are several spaces where there is potential for people to meet - corridors for chance encounters, a ground floor lobby with an atelier to the side, a shared 'workshop' on the second level and a rooftop that doubles up as an impromptu party venue.


The building was slated to be torn down, but was restored after semi-abandonment in 2010. Today it provides homes and workplaces for many Japanese creative types. In comparison, the Nagakin Capsule Tower faces a more uncertain fate. It has been suggested that this is because the Nagakin Capsule is limited in the scope of users, with each pod being designed for single occupancy. This being the most definitive difference in the longevity of the New Sky Building.

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mariathuroczy, April 18th, 2013
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