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Arata Isozaki: Distinguished Architect, City planner and Theorist

Arata isozaki

Arata Isozaki: Distinguished Architect, City planner and Theorist

Distinguished Japanese architect, city planner and theorist, Arata Isozaki has recently been announced the laureate of the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Isozaki is regarded as Japan’s most influential postwar architect. He is the 46th recipient of the Pritzker Prize, and the eighth Japanese architect to receive the honor.



The Pritzker jury describes him as “a versatile, influential, and truly international architect“.


Arata Isozaki was born in Ōita, Island of Kyushu, Japan in 1931 prior to the onset of World War II. He was 14 years old when Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s attacks occurred. The work behind the renaissance of those cities was the first real inspiration for Isozaki’s mindset.

Arata isozaki

Isozaki graduated as an architect at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo in 1954. Then, he began his career with an apprenticeship under the guidance of 1987 Pritzker Prize Laureate Kenzo Tange. After that, he established Arata Isozaki & Associates in 1963, after the Allied occupation. By the time, Japan had regained its sovereignty and was seeking physical rebuilding.

Therefore Isozaki has served as a visiting professor at several U.S. universities. For instance, Columbia University, New York (New York, USA); Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA), and Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut, USA). At the moment, he is based in Okinawa with offices operating in Japan, China, Italy, and Spain.

As Isozaki told the New York Times, the prize awarded to him “is like a crown on the tombstone.” It is the corollary of a career that has already given him the important gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1986, but also the French Arts and Letters Order in 1997 and the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale a year earlier.

Till today, Isozaki’s buildings defy stylistic categorisations, and remain fresh in their approach.

“I wanted to see the world through my own eyes,” Isozaki said. “So I travelled around the globe at least 10 times before I turned 30”.

“I wanted to feel the life of people in different places and visited extensively inside Japan, but also to the Islamic world, villages in the deep mountains of China, South East Asia, and metropolitan cities in the US. I was trying to find any opportunities to do so, and through this, I kept questioning, ‘what is architecture?’”

Isozaki’s creations reflect his truly unique personality through such a personal architecture that defies any established line of thought. The unparalleled ideas and spaces, along with his contributions to architectural theory and urbanism, gave birth to a prestigious legacy.

Precisely within the framework of urbanism, he developed one of his most interesting proposals that was not built. The futuristic plan known as City in the Air for the Shinjuku neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan.

Latest Works:

Shanghai Symphony Hall 2008-2014 Shanghai, China

The 2014 opening of Shanghai Symphony Hall celebrated the 135th anniversary of Asia’s oldest orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. In collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the two halls seat 1200 and 400 guests respectively, each achieving an intimate aural balance for users through the use of latest technology and sensitive materials.

Lucerne Festival Ark Nova 

Lucerne festival - arata isozaki
Lucerne festival - arata isozaki

Lucerne Festival Ark Nova (designed by Anish Kapoor and Arata Isozaki) / (2011-2013, 2014) Miyagi, Japan (2015) Fukushima, Japan (2017) Tokyo, Japan

What’s your opinion about Arata Isozaki? We are totally in love with his distinctive mindset and outstanding work. 


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