Architecture and Nothingness
The Potency of Negation and Decay in Arata Isozaki’s Work
In Isozaki’s Aoki house, completed in 1979, the concept of nothingness as formulated by Sartre occurs through the absence of an expected figure (fig. 4). Isozaki would describe it: “When I designed buildings from that time, I would try to resolve to the blank as far as possible.”1 In the case of the Aoki house, the resort to blankness was reflected through the conception of a maximum unobstructed vaulted space, constructed in faced concrete, approaching darkness as much as possible (fig.5). In Being and Nothingness, Sartre would describe the perception of the space of nothingness similarly in the context of an undifferentiated background. In the circumstance when someone would wait for a person, named Pierre in Sartre’s example, the café where one would wait for Pierre would recede to the background in an undifferentiated totality.2 The absence of Pierre would trigger, thus, the evanescence of the café, or the context itself which proceeds towards its own nothingness. If Pierre were to arrive, though, the person waiting for him would suddenly start perceiving the objects within the café in their being. The non-being of Pierre triggers the secondary non-being of his context. But this non-being could only occur when someone is waiting for Pierre, otherwise his non-being does not belong to reality, but purely to the imagination. The perception of the immediate context is not affected. Within the prevalence of stark materials, the darkness of the Aoki house becomes tactile in itself. The experience of nothingness does not transpire only from the visual apprehension of the space, but also from within being itself.