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Miguel A. Alonso del Val, Director of the University of Navarra's School of Architecture

Arata Isozaki: a Priktzer in Pamplona

Thu, 07 Mar 2019 13:16:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

In 2001, on the occasion of the competition for the Museum of the Sanfermines, Arata Isozaki approached the city of Pamplona to get to know it closely and try to understand its peculiar idiosyncrasies in order to propose a pathway that involved the whole city, starting with a curved building, called "Sanfermines Experience", in the park of the Arga in the Rochapea, facing another cubic, called "Museum of Pamplona" on the Baluarte de Parma between the Museum of Navarra and the file General of Navarra, to continue the tour through the streets of the Encierro and end at the place de Toros or "Media Room of the Sanfermines".

Our studio was called to collaborate with the Japanese master in the proposal and, although we were not awarded, the experience of sharing that project was highly gratifying and, above all, the possibility of explaining the rich bequest that Pamplona's urban planning and its most universal festival have for the city. His visit was fleeting as befitted an architect already installed in the "star system" of the beginning of the century, but the members of the "ah arquitectos" team remember the sensitivity and appreciation he showed for a city so quiet for an architect accustomed to the bustle of Tokyo that, incredibly, could be transformed into a permanent red party.

Born in 1931 in the city of Oita, on the Japanese island of Kyushu, he was one of the youngest members of the group so-called "metabolists" who, under the leadership of Tange and Maekawa, represented the contribution of third-generation Japanese architects. sample Less radical than Kurokawa and Kikutake, both Maki and Isozaki soon abandoned a movement dedicated to utopian urbanism that sought to blend references to the industrialized world and Japanese tradition, of which their project space city is a good example.

He studied at the University of Tokyo and collaborated with his professor Kenzo Tange, also award Priktzer of 1987, at the Yamanashi Communications Center. In 1963 he founded his own studio and carried out a number of important works in Oita Prefecture, such as Library Services in 1966. Later he worked on the Osaka plan and was hired as chief architect for Expo'70, where he designed the Festival place , which introduced the viewer to the sensation of being in a virtual technological space.

However, it was in 1974 when he built the Museum of Fine Arts of Gunma Prefecture, a work that gave him international relevance with his drawings of a geometric building of cubic Structures that unfolds over a landscape full of traditional references. Other important works are the Library Services Central of Kitakyushu, also from 1974, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1986) where a clear populist formalism can be appreciated. He was also an architect who imported foreign talent to his native country, favoring complex urban developments such as the Nexus housing in Fukuoka which, in 1989, offered an opportunity to emerging architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Steven Holl.

Having become an international architect, he carried out several projects in Spain around the Barcelona 92 Olympics. In addition to the Palafolls Sports Palace and the later Caixa Forum, his most recognized work is the San Jordi Sports Palace in Montjuic, with a roof that is a dome made with a double spatial mesh structure designed specifically for the enclosure and whose final form is the result of a complex construction process very much to the taste of the Japanese architect.

He has also left other works built in Spain that have become a citizen reference letter . In La Coruña he built the Domus Museum as an open sail on a cliff facing the sea in Riazor and, closer by, in Bilbao he built two glass towers known as "Isozaki Atea" on the ruins of an old storeroom on the Uribitarte pier. Both pieces show the versatility of an architect who has gone through all the formal currents of the second half of the twentieth century and who, now, at the end of a long career, is receiving recognition that almost all his colleagues of generational success had already received.

A slow and silent architect who did not get to culminate his desire to build a sequence of powerful forms, perhaps somewhat impostured, in the Pamplona of the beginning of the century but who enjoyed, and much, the contrasting light of that hot May in the old town and the extraordinary quality of the vegetables served in the restaurant "Rodero". Pamplona did not grant an opportunity to the architect Isozaki but Arata san took a great memory of Pamplona.