The Japanese designer was 91 years old. He had designed more than a hundred buildings in Asia, Europe, America and Australia. Among his works, the Allianz Tower in Milan
Passed away on Thursday 29 December at the age of 91, the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki he is one of the figures who have contributed to designing the architectural landscape of our day. Leaving, among other things, a significant imprint on our country, from the controversial project of the Loggia degli Uffizi in Florence to the Allianz Tower in Milan, 202 meters high above the new CityLife district. “Her abstract and clear language was partly inspired by her profound knowledge of Italian Renaissance architecture,” commented the director of the Florentine museum, Eike Schmidt.
Isozaki could count on a very versatile inspiration: his is the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nagi, Disney offices in Orlando, the Potsdamer Platz building in Berlin, the Zendai Art Museum Hotel in Shanghai. And, above all, on a fatal attraction for Italy: in particular for Brunelleschi and Palladio.
Numerous made in Italy projects (supported by the architect Andrea Maffei): the new Bologna railway station, the PalaOlimpico in Turin, the maritime station and the Palazzetto dello sport in Salerno, the new headquarters of the Province of Bergamo, the new library of Maranello (in the province of Modena), the Allianz Tower in Milan (“il Dritto” among the three skyscrapers of CityLife), for which he had chosen as a model the Endless Tower by Constantin Brancusi, however, combining this inspiration with the entire urban experience of Milan, that of the Torre Velasca and the Pirelli skyscraper.
Born in the prefecture of Oita (in the island of Kyushu) on July 23, 1931, Isozaki had studied and graduated from the University of Tokyo, then working with Kenzo Tange from 1954 to 1963, the year in which he had opened his studio (Arata Isozaki Atelier). Anticipated by the interest in the theme of ruins (an echo of the destruction of Hiroshima is theElectric Labyrinth exhibited at the Milan Triennale in 1968), its first phase of activity is characterized, according to critics, by «utopian-programmatic» projects in line with the positions of the English group Archigram and with the proposals of the Japanese group Metabolism.
«I grew up – he said in 2008 in an interview with “Corriere della Sera” – in a place razed to the ground. It was in ruins, and there was no architecture, no buildings, not even a city. Only barracks and shelters. Therefore, my first architecture experience it was the emptiness of architecture, and I started to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities».
Among his best-known achievements: the Oita Medical Center (1961-66); the Macedonian City of Skopje Expansion Plan (1965-66) on which he worked as a member of Tange’s staff; a series of branches of the Sogo Bank of Fukuoka (Headquarters, Tokyo, Nagasumi, Saga, Ropponmatsu) executed between 1968 and 1973; the Museum of Modern Art of Gumma Prefecture (1972-74); the Kitakyushu City Museum of Art and Central Library (1972-74); the West Japan General Exhibition Center (1975-77); Kamioka City Hall (1976-78); the Oita Audiovisual Center (1977-79); the Nippon Electric Glass Co.Ltd building in Otsu (1977-80); the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (1981-86); the Sant Jordi sports palace in Barcelona (1984-90); the Art Tower in Mito-Ibaragi (1986-90); the Kitakyushu Conference Center (1987-90). He had married the sculptor Aiko Miyawaki, also author of the sculptures at the entrance to the Palau Sant Jordi, which symbolize a garden of trees.
Speaking of the archistars (of which he was in any case a part), he wanted to clarify: “I don’t like it as a definition, rather I think that a certain spectacularization of the figure of the architect is the result of that generational evolution that has catapulted the designer into the center of media attention».
The judgment on the current state of architecture is drastic: «We have distanced ourselves from the more classic idea, that of tradition, and young people today want to deal above all with design, they have lost that idea of a classic project, like Brunelleschi who, not by chance, built his buildings looking at classicism and directly on the building site» (in one of his books he had established «elective affinities» between the fifteenth Italian and Japan).
When in 2019 the Pritzker prize had returned to celebrate the lesson of the masters, it had chosen to confer the recognition precisely on the great (and shy) Arata Isozaki. With a reasoning that she appreciated: «A designer capable of overcoming the structure of architecture to raise questions that transcend eras and borders». And to confront “an increasingly complex modernity”. An architect who, explains his colleague Andrea Maffei (in 2005 they founded Arata Isozaki & Andrea Maffei Associati in Milan), «always wanted to be a citizen of the world».
December 29, 2022 (change December 29, 2022 | 20:58)
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