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274
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September 2019

#274
September 2019

Interior High Notes: Residential wonders in Atlanta, Whistler, Milan and more in Azure's September 2019 issue!

Arata Isozaki, 2019 Pritzker Prize

Arata Isozaki has been one of Japan’s most influential architects for over half a century – a career now recognized with the 2019 Pritzker Prize. His richly varied work has consistently demonstrated new design solutions that draw on the local context of each individual project. Born in 1931, Isozaki graduated from the university of Tokyo in 1954, and began his career under the tutelage of Kenzo Tange (a Pritzker winner in 1987), before establishing the office of Arata Isozaki & Associates in 1963.

Arata Isozaki, 2019 Pritzker Prize
Ōita Prefectural Library, photo courtesy of Yasuhiro Ishimoto

In a country still recovering from the decimation of WWII, Isozaki’s early career was shaped by a desire to rebuild from physical destruction and lingering cultural and economic uncertainty. “In order to find the most appropriate way to solve these problems, I could not dwell upon a single style. Change became constant. Paradoxically, this came to be my own style,” says Isozaki.

Isozaki’s hometown of Fukuoka was the primary site of the young architect’s earliest projects. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Arata Isozaki & Associates emerged as one of Japan’s leading practices, completing major projects including the Ōita Prefectural Library (1962-66), Osaka’s Expo ’70 Festival Plaza (1966-70), the Gunma Museum of Modern Art (1971-74), and the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Fukuoka (1972-74).

Arata Isozaki, 2019 Pritzker Prize
Kitakyushu Central Library, photo courtesy of Yasuhiro Ishimoto

By the 1980s, Isozaki’s contextual sensibility helped foster a growing international dialogue in the architectural community. In Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art (1981-86) marked Isozaki’s inaugural overseas project, and the first step in a diverse – and growing – global portfolio. With over 100 completed works, Isozaki’s prominent international projects include Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi (1983-90), the Pala Alpitour (2002-05) in Turin, and the Shanghai Symphony Hall (2008-14).

Arata Isozaki, 2019 Pritzker Prize
Shanghai Symphony Hall, photo courtesy of Chen Hao

For Isozaki, the roots of a long and distinguished career grew from the memory of devastation. He was 14 at the time of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The experiences imparted the knowledge that while buildings are transient and temporary, they can impart pleasure and inspiration to the world around them. “When I was old enough to begin an understanding of the world, my hometown was burned down,” says Isozaki. “Across the shore, the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, so I grew up near ground zero. It was in complete ruins, and there was no architecture, no buildings and not even a city.”

Arata Isozaki, 2019 Pritzker Prize
Shanghai Symphony Hall, photo courtesy of Chen Hao

Perhaps the architectural void of his youth inspired Isozaki’s contextual sensibility. “Only barracks and shelters surrounded me,” he says. “So, my first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities.”

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.