Japanese architect Arata Isozaki dies at 91

Japanese architect Arata Isozaki has died at 91


Arata Isozaki, a world-renowned Japanese architect who was belatedly awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2019, died Wednesday at the age of 91, his agency announced on Friday, confirming reports from several media .

He died of old age at his home in Okinawa (southwest Japan), and his funeral was to be held privately, according to a brief statement from his architectural office forwarded to AFP. 

Very prolific and cosmopolitan, Isozaki was known for never having sought to assert a particular style, being rather concerned with integrating his constructions as well as possible into their environment. 

“My pleasure is to create different things, not repeating the same thing”, he explained in November 2017 to the specialized site ArchDaily. 

“For the media or identity and all these things, it is very disturbing “, he slipped with a mischievous air. 

Among his best-known works are the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1986), which launched his international career, the multi-purpose Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, ​​built for the 1992 Olympic Games, and even the Qatar National Convention Center (2011), a convention center in Doha with gigantic columns shaped like tree branches. >He has also built many cultural buildings in Japan and China, apartment towers in Bilbao in Spain, the colorful Disney administrative headquarters in Florida and the Allianz Tower skyscraper in Milan (2015), also called the ” Isozaki Tower”. 

Born in 1931 in Oita, in the southern island of Kyushu, Isozaki was marked like his entire generation by the Second World War, during which most Japanese cities were destroyed by American bombing. 

“Everything was in ruins […]. I was only surrounded by barracks and shelters. My first experience of architecture was thus the absence of architecture, and I began to think about how people could rebuild their homes and their cities,” he said. 

He grew up between Japanese traditionalism and the influence of American culture, brought to the Japanese archipelago during the post-war occupation. This led him to take an early interest in the contrasts of aesthetic codes in East and West, and to want to build bridges between the two. 

Like Tadao Ando, ​​another famous Japanese architect from ten years her junior, Isozaki was very attached to the Japanese concept of “Ma”, which is concerned with the interval between two objects or actions, and had been one of its first transmitters in the West. 

He had been an apprentice of the Japanese modernist architect Kenzo Tange before creating his own agency, Arata Isozaki & Associates, which subsequently opened offices in Spain, Italy and China.