Affluent travelers are determined by well-known accommodations such as Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton where they are worldly appreciated for the best service and comfort. These hotel brands stand strongly of the definition "Luxury Accommodation". However, creation of Nakagin Hotel in 1972 designed by Kisho Kurokawa has affected hotel industry by redefining the idea of luxury with its distinctive design. By introducing customers with the architecture of Metabolism, the idea of "no frill" hotel and a space acting as a defence mechanism, Capsule Hotel has opened doors to new consumers who are ready to welcome a non- traditional concept of luxury.
Kisho Kurokawa was born in Nagoya in 1934, and is one of the most internationally known Japanese architects. He is highly recognized for the creation of Metabolism movement in 1960. Kurokawa (1992) demonstrates that this movement is served as a challenge to the age of the machine through emphasis on both life and life forms (8). Moreover, Kurokawa (1995, 13) clearly defines that "the architecture of Metabolism did not derive from the analogy of the machine but from the analogy of growing, living organism or living principle". This is why many of Kurokawa's designed buildings share the aesthetics of living organism. For example, the design of 'Helix City' in 1960 is inspired by DNA molecules and the 'Yamagata Hawaii Dreamland Resort' in 1966 is supposed to express an indeterminate-shaped cell and its growth principle. Kurokawa (1992) states that his architecture of metabolism strongly accepts, integrates and maintains the worthwhile achievement of modern society and architecture (10). Unlike William Morris during the Arts and Crafts Movement, who has rejected the Industrial Revolution, the architecture of Metabolism expresses the cultural identity while making strong use of modern technology and materials. During 20th century, Kurokawa had made a paradigm shift from "age of machine" principle to "age of life" principle and his Metabolism idea has made a significant development in architecture.
Because architecture of Metabolism relates to the age of life, the main concept of living cell are mostly based on notions of "growth, division, exchange, transformation, autonomy of parts, recycle, and deconstruction" (Kurokawa 1992, 32). The architectural expression of these notions allowed Kurokawa to come up with the idea of capsule architecture. Capsule architecture was not aimed for mass production; instead, this deconstructed architecture was an attempt to "create a plurality of new possibilities of combination" (Kurokawa 1992, 32). Kurokawa proposed the idea that Capsule architecture would be easily replaced, recyclable, and last many years; it would be a sustainable architecture. Moreover, the three members of Metabolist group Fumihiko Maki, Kiyonori Kikutake and Kisho Kurokawa designed to produce a "self-end system" (Kurokawa 1992, 11) by applying the principles of Metabolism. Goal of their design was to create architecture that would regenerate itself by encouraging the people living in it to participate. The Capsule will function as both prosthetic mechanism, enhancing the human body's performance, and as sublimation of human necessities and desire to a mechanical structure of device. This also led to the idea of Capsule architecture and soon, Kurokawa added these concepts to commercial architecture and designed Nakagin Capsule Hotel in 1972.
However, the main purpose of Nakagin Capsule Hotel was to provide housing for businessmen. This space provided as a place to stay overnight for people who have missed their last train. Plus, it was another route to a comfortable stay instead of taking a dreadful long train ride home late at night only to turn around a few hours later to return to work. In addition, according to Leslie, (2006, 13) "it was conceived as an economic method of quickly supplying a large number of housing units" and Kurokawa (1995, 15) believed it was an "opportunity to prove the cultural and economic potential of the capsule archetype". Leslie (2006) stated that Japan was undergoing massive social change and even unrest during the late 1960's (11). For this reason, Capsule Hotel was an escape to unpopulated utopia or crouching down in an urban refuge.
There are three main reasons of why consumers desire luxury hospitality experience: to demonstrate the economic power within one's social class, to flaunt one's own ability and hierarchy to others, and to encounter one with the best comfort and service during one's stay.
Many traditional luxury hotels offer facilities and services up to guests' expectations. According to Rutes (2001) luxury hotels originate from the splendid historical buildings. Such buildings like 'Hotel de Crillon' in Paris and 'Hotel Danieli' in Venice built in 18th century include high ceiling, traditional hand-painted walls and marble bathrooms that show extravagance (167). Most luxurious hotels are inspired by the styles of wealthy class home interiors such as chandeliers, grand pianos, gold-coloured furniture and ceilings painted in a style of trompe l'oeil. Furthermore, the hotel provides guests with many amenities: pool, spa, golf-range, fitness facilities, restaurants and more. However, the main concern about these hotels is, is it affordable for consumers? It all depends on the disposable income that guests have. More the guests pay, the better service and room they receive.
Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa has created one of the most unique innovations. Nakagin Capsule Hotel served as an emblem for "new luxury" without using so much money. What is it about Capsule Hotel's that seem so intriguing and desirable? Kurokawa mentions that "capsules are for those who want to release what is pent up inside them" (Leslie 2006, 13). Inside each capsule, there is a trademark round window accompanied by a rotating shade device that provide daylight. Its circled shaped window refers to traditional round opening in Buddhist architecture. Within each capsule is a combination of both bed and couch located beside the window. There is also a built in entertainment system where one could watch television programs or play movies. A small office desk and a wall of storage containers are the only architectural amenities. Lastly, there is encapsulated bathroom containing a small shower, sink, and toilet. The aesthetics of the bathroom is said to be "sharing a space on the basis of precise anthropomorphic data" (Leslie 2006, 14). By using sectional volumes in addition to floor space, it accommodates human dimensions. According to Kurokawa (2001), one can do as one wish inside the capsule, away from political and social eyes (13). During this century, Japan was becoming increasingly populated. Capsules operate as a sense of defence mechanism; it provides safe and reliable space for people that are scared to release their own identity into socially strict society. "Capsule Hotel is a fantasy which involves both our fondest hopes and deepest fears regarding the operations of technology on our bodies, our social relations and our culture" (Leslie 2006, 15). By providing a fantastical space for individuals overnight, one is able to ease away his fears and anxiety that they have obtained from the roaring urban society.
Not only the interior of Nakagin Capsule hotel stimulates the desire to stay, but the phenomenal architectural design of the exterior makes it extremely appealing to one's eyes. The building consists of two service towers each with central elevator surrounded by a helical staircase. 144 prefabricated capsule units were bolted into these two towers. Plus the glossy rustproof paint was attached to the exterior for sustainability. The overall appearance of geometrically stacked capsules makes the building more unique and eye-catching.
Nakagin Capsule Hotel has introduced its first system of "no frill" hotels. This simple, fast, and cheap system is another concept of "new luxury". Like any other traditional hotels, Capsule Hotel offers guests with a bed, a shower and the security of the room and nothing more. This is why Capsule Hotels are much cheaper compared to other five start hotels. The consumer finds no frill hotels as being an economical choice for travel and vacations. Leslie (2006) states that even though the rooms are smaller than normal hotel rooms, five star bed and shower leaves guests with the same necessities of the no frill system Capsule Hotel room with much affordable cost (16). Nakagin Capsule Hotel can be seen as a low cost goods and services that add design, necessity and comfort to customers.
Kisho Kurokawa has introduced the world with its one of a kind commercial design in 1970. Because of Nakagin Capsule Hotel's uniqueness, its distinctive design and the idea of no frill hotels have spread across the world. Rutes (2001) explains that the launch of new and dynamic idea of Kurokawa's commercial design has influenced certain countries to develop further on his similar ideas. One of the capsule hotel in Japan called '9 hours' proposed an interesting idea. Their name relates to their main concept, one hour shower, seven hours sleep, one hour rest, which equals 9 hours stay at their capsule hotel. Moreover, 'Yotel' Capsule hotel in London, with their modern interiors offers four types of capsule rooms: premium, standard, twin and accessible which are for wheelchair access. Also, the idea of no frill has now spread to Japan, United States, Malaysia, Bali, India and soon coming to Montreal in Canada (25). Not only did it effect commercially but also "Kurokawa's proposition had integrated production, performance and experience into a new suggestion of domestic space" (Leslie 2006, 16). By applying domestic features to individual capsules, his designs have developed to improve housing methods for future architecture.
Kisho Kurokawa's design of Nakagin Capsule Hotel established its concept of "new luxury" by combining Metabolism with commercial architecture, introducing convenient and cheap idea of no frill hotel, and providing secure capsule space for individuals acting as a defence mechanism. Kurokawa's direction towards launching a dynamic concept to commercial design has become recognized socially and economically. Clearly, trends of people's life style changed in hotel industry; "luxury" has gained its new concept and has become popularized due to the creation of Nakagin Capsule Hotel.