Isozaki Arata is one of the most distinguished practicing architects in the world today, not only for his experimental designs but also for his rigorous architectural theses. He is most well known as a pioneering figure of the postmodern trend with his designs of the 1970s and 1980s.
However, this study is not a comprehensive survey of Isozaki’s entire career from the 1960s to the present, but a specific look at his formative years when the architect began to articulate his own design methodology. Particular emphasis is given to the architect’s active interactions with the 1960s art circles with an intention to discuss the convergence of creative individuals and cross-disciplinary connections that occurred in postwar Japan.
The study examines the dual identity of Isozaki as both artist and architect. If Isozaki’s identity as an architect was formed by his training in Tange Kenzō’s office and his collaboration with the Metabolists, his alter-identity as an artist was indebted to his encounter with the 1960s radical artists. First, it delineates Isozaki’s encounter with the avant-garde art movement of the 1960s, collectively called “Anti-Art,” against the backdrop of the “anti-spirit” of Japanese society. Then it discusses how Isozaki’s interaction with contemporary artists helped him to formulate the idea of “invisible city,” a radically new design concept which was closely linked to the radical expansion of the nature of architecture from isolated built forms to allencompassing natural and manmade environments. The notion of “invisible city” took concrete shape with a dialogue with environment art and it was eventually channeled into a cybernetic model of architecture and urbanism.