CULTURE: Isozaki Brings Fiction to City

By Takano, Kiyomi | The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), February 25, 2014 | Go to article overview

CULTURE: Isozaki Brings Fiction to City


Takano, Kiyomi, The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)


Arguably Japan's foremost architect, Arata Isozaki has been stimulating cultural developments for half a century, not only through his buildings, but also through his art criticism and intellectual writings.

Now aged 82, he is currently holding an exhibition of his urban designs. A collection of his writings has also been published.

Isozaki spoke to The Yomiuri Shimbun about the future of architecture and cities.

After studying at the University of Tokyo under legendary architect Kenzo Tange, Isozaki started his own studio in 1963. He won an international reputation with his architectural designs, including those of the Tsukuba Center Building in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The word "toshi" (city, urban) has always been at the center of his thoughts. It is well reflected in his works on display at "Solaris," the exhibition currently running at NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Hatsudai, Tokyo.

The exhibition features his architectural designs and models, including those for "Clusters in Air Project" (1960-63), "Computer Aided City Project" for Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture, and "Kaishi," a planned artificial island off of Macao, China.

Many of them existed only on paper, although there are examples that materialized, such as the Festival Plaza for the Expo 1970 in Osaka Prefecture. Each of the designs looks as if it was ahead of the time heralding a society that was to come.

On the other hand, Isozaki also embraces concepts in architecture and urbanism based on his own speculations about the history of architecture and society as well as on his mental images of ruins, rooted in his experience of standing amid burned debris after the end of World War II. These concepts have been represented in his writings, such as "Kenchiku no Kaitai" (Deconstruction of architecture) and "Unbuilt."

"I said 'Unbuilt' as a paradox of sorts, but I think I wasn't being taken seriously then. This time I made it a little bit clearer," he said.

An ongoing project in China also is shown at the exhibition as a work in progress. Isozaki is involved in designing cities and cultural facilities in various parts of China, including an urban planning project in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, which is part of the Central Plain of old times. …

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