Japanese digital consultancy Gluon plans to preserve the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building in Tokyo, one of the most representative examples of Japanese Metabolism by Kisho Kurokawa. The “3D Digital Archive Project” is using a combination of measurement techniques to record the iconic building in three dimensions and recreate it in the metaverse. The tower is currently being demolished due to the structure's precarious state and incompatibility with current seismic standards, as well as the general state of decay and lack of maintenance.
The Nakagin Capsule Tower Building is considered the embodiment of a bold architectural vision: that of organic growth and extreme flexibility. The construction was finalized in 1972, but the concept of metabolism understood the building as being dynamic, in a constant state of flux. The 140 capsules plugged into the central core, 14-story high, were supposed to be added, exchanged, or replaced every 25 years. This reflected the metabolic ideas of the 1960s, which saw the city as an ever-changing, dynamic concept driven by influential trans-cultural aspects.
Despite its international acclaim, this idea did not withstand the test of time. The pods gradually deteriorated as the poor maintenance led to drainage and damaged water pipes. Although the architecture was specifically designed to allow for the replacement of the pods, the feature hasn't been exploited. After the demolition was officially announced, efforts have been underway to reuse some of the original capsules as accommodation units and museum installations. However, the team at Gluon proposes an alternative: preserving the three-dimensional image of the building for the public to explore freely.
By combining laser scan data, which can accurately measure distances, with photographic data taken by SLR cameras and drones, the entire building has been measured in three dimensions to create reliable data on the entire real space. The trajectory of renovations by the residents and the appearance of the buildings as they have changed over time are also recorded. The digital archive of the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building also aims to generate a building based on detailed measurement data and construct a place where people can gather again in the metaverse.
A crowdfunding campaign has been conducted to raise funds for the cost of the 3D measurement. The returns include NFT of the capsule, data that can be output on a 3D printer, and high-density 3D point cloud data. If the crowdfunding support reaches the target amount, the 3D point cloud data will be released as open-source data on the website free of charge, creating opportunities for academic research and new creative activities. The team also developed an Augmented Reality (AR) system which allows smartphones to display the building in 3D. Besides viewing the exterior of the building, the AR system allows visitors to view the inside of a capsule.
The 3D Digital Archive Project has previously used XR technology to restore the "Miyakonojo Civic Hall" (Miyazaki Prefecture), a famous building designed by Kiyonori Kikutake, and the "Daikokuyu" (Tokyo), known as the "King of Public Baths, in the metaverse.