Size doesn’t always matter when it comes to these diminutive but design-savvy hotel rooms.
A uniquely Japanese innovation that many see as a series of glorified cubby holes for traveling businessman, the capsule hotel may come off as another example of kitsch, with room barely large enough to stretch out and sleep. But the originator of these modular structures, noted Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, saw the future playing out in small, flexible dwellings designed for a more nomadic lifestyle. When the first capsule hotel was built in Osaka in 1979, following on the heels of a 1972 capsule apartment building, it exemplified Kurokawa’s Metabolist philosophy and focus on sustainability and impermanence. With a small footprint and interchangeable structures, it stood as a precursor to today’s green, small-scale urban housing schemes. While Kurokawa’s vision of a more modular city never came to pass, his influence has played out in this series of similarly small-scale hotels, sized for convenience and adaptability and now more functional than futuristic.