Ark Nova 2013, by Arata Isozaki and Anish Kapoor, as featured in Bubbletecture

How Anish Kapoor turned an artwork into a concert hall

On his 65th birthday we look at how he and Arata Isozaki created an abstract work to solve a real world problem

Anish Kapoor might create abstract works, but he takes a big interest in real-world problems. In our book on the artist, (still a few copies left in stores) he describes his interest in the writings of post-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon, as an engagement with the "politics of the earth, of the ground that shifts."

Sometimes those territorial shifts are figurative, such as in 2017, when he donated $1 million in art-prize money he had just won to help those caught up in the refugee crisis resulting from the conflict in Syria.


Ark Nova

However, in the case of Ark Nova, Kapoor’s inflatable concert hall collaboration with the 2019 Pritzker Prize winner Arata Isozaki, he moves the earth literally.

“Created two years after a major earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, Ark Nova was intended to bring culture and spirit to communities still rebuilding after the devastation,” we explain in our new book Bubbletecture.

“Conceived by the architect and artist team of Arata Isozaki and Anish Kapoor as a travelling concert hall, the 30 m (110 ft) diameter, 18 m (60 ft) high, eggplant-hued, air-filled membrane could be transported to a venue, inflated, then deflated and folded, ready to travel to the next location,” the text adds.

Kapoor modeled the building on his inflatable Leviathan sculptures, large-scale works made for a 2011 exhibition, and told the New York Times back in 2013 that the hall was “like a fine Savile Row suit in that "it has to be made perfectly, otherwise you see every wrinkle.”

Clearly, Ark Nova’s conception was more or less perfect; since its creation the 500-capacity hall has hosted numerous events, including jazz concerts, classical recitals, performing arts shows and exhibitions.



For more on this inflatable building and many more, order a copy of Bubbletecture here