This was one of the first reinforced concrete apartment buildings in Tokyo, built by the Dōjunkai organization to provide housing in the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Much of the damage and loss of life from the earthquake resulted from fires that swept through the densely-packed wooden buildings that made up the city. The Dōjunkai apartments provided much improved earthquake and fire resistance, and their European modernist-inspired architecture was cutting-edge at the time.
Nevertheless, the buildings did not age well, and during the construction booms of the 1980s and 90s most were demolished to make way for new developments. After 2003 only two remained of the original 16 complexes, the Minowa and Uenoshita Apartments.
These photos were taken on September 26, 2009, the day the Minowa Apartments were demolished. I wasn't aware the building was scheduled for demolition, so it was quite lucky that I chose that day to photograph it. I arrived just as the crew was beginning to tear down the east end of the structure. While I was photographing the building, an elderly woman who had lived there when she was young approached me and told me about how impressive and modern the apartments seemed when they were new. They were among the first residential buildings in Japan to feature modern conveniences like electricity, natural gas, and indoor plumbing that the common person could afford, and were symbolic of the emergence of a Japanese middle class.
The last of the Dōjunkai apartments, Uenoshita, was demolished in 2013.