walking around a site under demolition

Isaac Mathew
4 min readJun 15, 2022

I haven’t traveled to Japan yet but this is my second visit to the Nakagin Capsule Tower. The first time is to trace Koolhaas’s Metabolist listing, a locate and bookmark exercise. Try and understand the narrative staged. Here now is to look at a building from a lot, that wouldn’t exist if at all I get to Japan in the future. Going to see a building virtually is almost as stressful as seeing it on site. You to prepare to get there, sort the old notes and plans in place. Metabolism died a while back, what even Koolhaas got was its ghost, I am now looking at an idea of a ghost. Google Maps is a multiplicity of pasts overlaid over each other. Immediate snapshots are from just before the building completely closed. Some stores are open. Street edges are never discussed in architectural books, it is the first thing that hits you. You can go back further in the past even on StreetView, 2009 is the furthest I have. There is no inside here, a shop view like in some buildings. All you get is a look around on three sides i.e. north, west, and south. Stepping back out is a combination of 2018, ’19, and ’21. It is surprising that Nakagin stayed in a state of disarray for close to 15 years, give or take. Going across the street is a layered view with a flyover in the foreground. Some kind of toll plaza, you get to go on top of that. Gliding through as on the ground doesn’t happen seamlessly, though you get some perspectives otherwise missed out. Tech has made architecture manifest in augmented reality. Books, magazines, and periodicals only had mint condition post-construction snap-shots but in this new world it is a layered past, and in this case how architecture was lived in. Architecture has always been a virtual construct, what comes after is a question worth addressing? Will it be a building or something else?

very early days
age of theory
past commerce
almost today
the other side
signing out



Isaac Mathew

i think #architecture #art #planning #design #engineering