Page 1






TADAO ANDO 10 – 11

STYLE 12 – 19

LIGHT 20 – 23

NATURE 24 – 29




Shanghai Pusan Ferry Terminal,


Keneko House,

Children’s Museum,



Koshino House,

Ashiya, Hyogo

Azuma House,




Church on Water,

Shimukappu, Hokkaido


Komyo-ji (Shrine),

Museum of Literature II,

Ibaragi, Osaka



Oyamazaki, Kyoto

Church of Light,

Umemiya House,

Tomishima House,

Oyamazaki Villa Museum,

Himeji, Hyo¯go

Shibuya, Tokyo

Saijo¯, Ehime

Himeji, Hyo¯go



Forest of Tombs Museum,


Japan Pavillion Expo’92, Sevilla, Spain



Church of the Light Sunday School,

Ibaraki, Osaka


Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art,

Hyogo Prefectural, Japan

The International Library of Children’s Literature,

Punta della Dogana

Ueno, Tokyo

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,

Fort Worth, Texas


Venice, Italy

Picture Book Museum,

Chichu Art Museum,

Naoshima, Kagawa

Inivisible House,

Treviso, Italy

Language Foundation,

Neuss, Germany


Asia University Museum of Arts,

Taichung, Taiwan

Tokyo Skytree,

Iwaki, Fukushima




Bonte Museum,



Glass House,

Seopjikoji, South Korea


Clark Art Institute,

Seogwipo, South Korea


Kaminoge Station,



Williamstown, USA


Hansol Museum,

Wonju, South Korea


TADAO ANDO A JAPANESE SELF-TAUGHT ARCHITECT OF LIGHT, REFLECTION, AND SPACE Still aspires to create a ‘masterpiece’ 8 Tadao Ando, born in 1941 is one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects. Characteristics of his work include large expanses of unadorned architectural concrete walls combined with wooden or stone floors and large windows. Active natural elements, like sun, rain, and wind are a distinctive inclusion to his style. He has designed many notable buildings, including Row House in Sumiyoshi, Osaka, 1976, which gave him the Annual Prize of Architectural Institute of Japan in 1979, Church of the Light, Osaka, 1989, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, 2001, Armani Teatro, Milan, 2001, Modern Art Museum of Fort

Worth, 2002 and 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in Tokyo, 2007. Among many awards he has received are; Gold Medal of Architecture, Academie d’Architecture (French Academy of Architecture) in 1989, The Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995, Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 2002, and Gold Medal of Union Internationale des Architectes in 2005. Ando is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was also a visiting professor at Yale, Columbia, UC Barkley, and Harvard Universities.

“If you give people nothingness, they can ponder what can be achieved from that nothingness.� 9

“I don’t believe architecture has to speak too much. It should remain silent and let nature in the guise of sunlight and wind.” 10

STYLE A MASTERY OF LIGHT, NATURE, AND SPACE “It must be filtered through my own vision and my own experience“ 11 Ando's use of concrete draws on work by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, with whom he is often compared. Ando adds a mastery of light, nature, and space which become as important and tangible as the walls. In an interview with Philip Jodidio, for the book, Tadao Ando, Ando says, "I am interested in a dialogue with the architecture of the past but it must be filtered through my own vision and my own experience. I am indebted to Le Corbusier or to Mies van der Rohe, but in the same way, I take what they did and interpret it in my own fashion." His fashion includes a very high quality concrete with a flawlessly lustrous finish achieved by casting in watertight formwork. Generally there is little or no orna-

mentation on his walls except for precise and ever-changing washes of sunlight and shadow which constantly emphasize the passage of time. Many of his homes and public buildings utilize large amounts of natural light and often contain open courtyards. These walled havens give his buildings an internal orientation which effectively closes out urban chaos. The open-aired isolation enables the inhabitants of his buildings the opportunity to reflect and observe their relationship to natural rhythms. Ando is also known for his fusion of Eastern and Western architecture. He designs buildings that seem universal in their balance of introspection and as-

sertiveness. His massive concrete walls define carefully assembled geometric compositions of squares, circles, and angles in endlessly fresh and unpredictable patterns. He is often touted for simple serene buildings that are reminiscent of ancient Zen gardens but which have been realized in the vernacular of modern architecture. They are traditionally Japanese in their air of reserve, but they are fully committed to modernity. Ando's inclusion of nature in his designs has been described as domesticating, abstracting, or stylizing nature. His courtyards are generally paved, and vegetation is at a minimum, if there are plants at all. He prefers atmospheric elements.

His buildings incorporate light, wind, temperature, and precipitation to make the inhabitants conscious of their interaction with the space. This introspective awareness is offered as an antidote to the uniformity of contemporary urban life. Electric lighting and climate-controlled environments desensitize people to natural rhythms and even to their own existence as being separate from and reactive to their environment. Awareness of the cold, hard concrete helps lead to the remembrance that humans are soft and warm. Having to grab an umbrella to go to the bathroom reminds one of being part of the natural world. Seeing shadows slowly cross the wall visually tracks the passing of time.

“In all my works, light is an important controlling factor.”


CHURCH OF LIGHT (1989) Ibaragi, Osaka


13 It is hard to imagine anything more materialistic in its constitution than a reinforced-concrete wall. Yet as was evident in Tadao Ando’s earliest works, it is exactly this element that under certain conditions is susceptible to dematerialization through the impact of light. This is strikingly demonstrated in the living room of the Koshino house of 1979-81, where concrete is transformed into an illusory surface through the action of sunlight. In this instance, it is the very unevenness of the cast concrete that makes the wall appear as though it were a light fabric hung against an invisible plane. Here the passage from materiality to immateriality is inseparable from the movement of the sun. It is a transformation that embodies the essential paradox of Ando’s archi-

tecture, namely the dematerialization of form through a perceivable passage of time. This temporal phenomenon, present throughout his career, arises from his conviction that the contingency of existence is revealed through the ineffable presence of nature. As he puts it: Nature in the form of water, light, and sky restores architecture from a metaphysical to an earthly plane and gives life to architecture. A concern for the relationship between architecture and nature inevitably leads to a concern for the temporal context of architecture. I want to emphasize the sense of time and to create compositions in which a feeling of transience or the passing of time is a part of the spatial experience.


Breeze, rain, forest, snow: these are the quasi-invisible climatic elements to which his architecture, through its simplicity, seems to be susceptible, most particularly perhaps because concrete is exceptionally responsive to air and water in all forms. Water itself first emerges as a self-conscious element in Ando’s architecture in two buildings realized at virtually the same time: the Church on the Water in Hokkaido (1985-88) and the Children’s Museum in Himeji (1987-89). Both of these compositions are augmented by shallow relfecting pools that are stepped to form the ovserver. In the Children’s Museum, this perpetually moving medium is further animated because on occasion the water doubles as a paddling pool; each step recalls the inescapable ephemerality of childhood as the pool flows imperceptibly toward the horizon where its surface fuses with that of an adjacent reservoir. In this instance, the traditional Japanese concept of shakkei (borrowed scenery) serves to extend the pool into the seemingly limitless expanse of the reservoir. At the Church on the Water, the fountain pool enacts its descent against a wooded landscape. The horizontally of the concrete chapel, accented by a semi-cubic belvedere, leads the eye again toward

the horizon, toward an imperceptible gully into which the water discharges before returning to its point of origin, and beginning its descent all over again. The changing incidence of the light, the presence of floating leaves, and the ripples induced by the occasional breeze all help to reveal the imperceptible movement of the water. Under certain conditions, at midday or in the evening, the pool glistens like a sheet of polished steel. Fog and frost induce further metamorphoses: the water seems to condense into mist or to crystalize into brittle ice, whereupon the aqueous becomes momentarily suspended, transformed into a motionless substance close in its translucence to frosted glass. Transparent plate-glass panels, set in elongated cruciform frames of welded steel, enclose the belvedere-stairway that constitutes the labyrinthine threshold of the chapel. In this virtual halfcube, visitors are momentarily poised between an inaccessible volume comprised of four concrete crosses and the steel-bracketed expanses of the pool and the surrounding landscape. To enter the church, visitors ascend within this prism to the level of the crosses. After pausing before the vista, they then descend via a short straight flight and a curved stair

into the half-cubic volume of the chapel itself. This monumental volume opens onto a particularly tranquil prospect focused about a steel cross standing in the midst of the pool. As in Kaija, and Heikki Sirén’s Otaniemi Chapel of 1957, this symbolic prospect is framed by a fifty-by-twenty-five-foot glazed wall that may be slid away in the summer to expose the chapel to the open air. This steel-and glass element slides into a freestanding concrete subframe that schematically replicated the elevation of the church. This bold transforming gesture evokes two divergent spiritual images: on one hand, an oblique allusion to the parallel precincts of the Ise Shrine (one in use, the other lying follow); on the other, a remote reference to Caspar David Friedrich’s quasi- animistic vision in which the mirage of a cross emerged from a pine tree. Similar conjunctions occur in both the Chapel on Mount Rokko in Kobe (198586) and the Church of the Light in Ibaraki (1987-89). In the first, the orientation of the church toward the altar and the cross is countered by a reference to nature; in the second, it is a natural light that establishes the Christian icon through a cruciform aperture let into the end wall


CHURCH OF LIGHT (1989) Ibaragi, Osaka


THE TEATRINO (2006) Venice, Italy

of the church. While the consecrated space in the Rokko chapel is the basilica itself, this volume is accessed via an arcade lined and roofed with large sheets of frosted glass that affords a self-contained approach between the chapel and the adjacent hotels. This perspectival volume terminates in a gap and the crest of the hill, thereby focusing on the void between sky and ocean that has long been an embodiment of the sacred in Japan. Only a stepped descent at the end of this Shinto-esque arcade affords any indication of the transitional threshold that opens into the chapel at the end of the arcade. Ando has indicated that this is a conscious reference to the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, where hundreds of tori (Shinto post-and-lintel gates) line the route to the sacred precinct. Inside the Rokko chapel, the presence of nature is reasserted through a full-height glass wall that occupies one side of the basilica. Divided by an inverted concrete cruciform into four large paces, this window wall opens onto a berm bounded by a dwarf wall. In representing nature as the ultimate repository of the divine, Ando divides the focus of the chapel between a steel crucifix suspended at the end of the nave and the tranquility of an

embankment covered with gardenias. The entire sequence thus breaks down into four interrelated type-forms: arcade, threshold, embankment, basilica. These may be said to refer sequentially to a changing counterpoint of Oriental and Occidental paradigms. A corresponding oscillation in the Church of Light is evoked by two interacting elements, one static and the other dynamic, that tend to cancel each other out. The first is a cruciform slot extending across the entire end wall of the church; the second is the ever-changing light rays that penetrate this opening and perceptually “deconstruct” the orthogonal volume of the church. Here, dynamic sunlight is the ultimate manifestation of the spirit, whereas at the Church on the Water, it is the water itself.

Water is also the prime mover in the Museum of Literature, Himeji, of 1988–91, where it appears as an active agent flowing around and under an elevated concrete ramp leading up to the museum. Here approaching visitors oppose the direction of the water, for they climb the ramp with water cascading down in a continuous stream on either side. In addition to the counterpoint between the body ascending and the water descending, there is an acoustical play between the sound of the footsteps on the ramp and the rush of the water as it is funneled into a wide, shallow cascade lined with pebbles. This is perhaps the first Ando work to adopt a comprehensive landscape character, entailing a sequence of topographic inflections to either side: first, a contrived distant view of the Himeji Castle; second, the

cylindrical body of the museum itself; finally, the low traditional dwelling of a local culture hero, the philosopher Tetsuro Wasuji, to whose memory the museum is dedicated. The water as it descends, gives the impressions of inundating the entire site, calling attention to first one element and then another. Similarly, water is the unifying element in the TIME’s shopping complex in Kyoto, the two phases of which were completed in 1984 and 1991. Here Ando establishes an intimate connection between three components: the straight course of the canalized Takase River, running through downtown Kyoto; the two story shops flanking the waterway; and a preexisting traditional stone bridge. A river footpath, paved in stone, bulges out to form a meditation platform close to the


THE TEATRINO (2006) Venice, Italy

THE TEATRINO (2006) Venice, Italy


rippling surface of the water. Apart from offering momentary relief from the bustle of the city and the ritual of shopping, the conjunction also evokes the traditional concept of oku, which may be loosely characterized as the process of association whereby the tokonoma shrine of the domestic interior alludes to a distant gateway leading to a shrine cradled in the fastness of a remote mountain. The Water Temple of 1989–91, built on the grounds of the existing Hompukuji Temple on Awaji Island, was also once remote, before the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge linked the island to the mainland in 1998. Here, in contrast to the Takase River, the aqueous element is absolutely still, save for a n occasional bird flitting furtively amid the lotus leaves and blossoms floating on its surface. As elsewhere in Japa-

NAOSHIMA ART MUSEUM (1992) Naoshima, Japan

nese culture, nature again embodies the divine, manifesting itself, in this instance, in the compact and dense vegetation of an oval lotus pond. This phenomenon is made all the more palpable by the fact that worshippers are induced to descend through the surface of the pond into the mass of water in order to bring the supplicant to a Buddhist temple sequestered beneath the concrete basin containing the pond. Here the full light of day which traverses the shiny surface of the lotuses; on the other, the red luminosity of the “subaqueous” wooden temple, which is illuminated by low western sunlight penetrating floor-to-ceiling wooden lattices painted red. In the architect’s original concept, rejected by the priests, the temple was to have comprised a hypostyle hall of red pylons surrounding a single statue of the Buddha.

One cannot conclude this survey of the role played by light and water in the first two decades of Ando’s practice without toughing on the Festival complex in Naha, Okinawa (1980–84): a seven-story, cubic, reinforced-concrete frame filled with perforated concrete-block walling in such a way as to create a tropical “light modulator.” Here light entering through a series of concrete-block screens is broken up into a constantly varying dappled pattern that cascades down through the central atrium of the gridded structure. As the angle of the sun changes, and different parts of the cube are struck by its light, an ever-changing chiaroscuro pattern is generated by the presence of the perforated membrane.


“We borrow from nature the space upon which we build.”




21 While Ando’s early use of walls as a means to establish self-contained domestic enclaves within the unending chaos of the modern megalopolis hardly constitutes an earthwork, the strategy of totally enclosing a house in bounding walls (as in his Azuma row house, Osaka, 1975–76) does seem to anticipate his subsequent involvement with the concept of the earthwork as a parti pris upon which to establish his larger public buildings. However, Ando’s first comprehensive earthwork at a truly monumental scale was the Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum in Osaka (1990–94). The predication of this work on the creation of an artificial hill illustrates a trope that has become an intrinsic part of his syntax: namely, the provision of a monumental stairway ascending to a belvedere at the

top of an incline. At the Chikatsu-Asuka Museum, this stairway/mound, affording a prospect over the antique burial mounds (kofun tombs) scattered throughout the region, conveys the idea that the entire structure is, in effect, a metaphorical kofun. This reference is corroborated by the organization of the exhibition space around a keyhole-shaped arena within the earthwork; the configuration echoes the plan of a typical burial mound. This subterranean space is illuminated by a square light shaft– cum–tower, which serves to establish a symbolic relationship between the earth and the sky. The tower itself, wrapped by a single-file spiraling stair, invited the occasional energetic visitor to attain an even greater panoramic view over the surrounding landscape.


Ando tackled a similar theme in a more intimate manner in his Forest of Tombs Museum in Kumamoto of 1989–92. The earthwork in this instance is simply a platform accessed by a wide stair from which a spiral ramp and a switchback stair descend into the two-story undercroft, accommodating the exhibition space. This compact matrix organizes the attendant landscape in terms of automobile and pedestrian movement, elements that double the rambling, parklike setting of the tombs themselves. That an earthwork for Ando always presupposes a waterwork as its hydraulic counterpart is evident in these archaeological museums, since a large drainage pond and a discrete reflecting pool are set in juxtaposition to retaining walls in, respectively, the Chikatsu-Asuka and Forest of Tombs Museum.

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri (1991–2001), is essentially Ando’s new museum prototype in that it comprises parallel, linear galleries stacked side by side and separated by light courts of varying widths. A similar arrangement obtains in the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe (1997– 2000) and in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas (1996–2002), located next to Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Museum. This larbynthine megaform is a particularly compelling work, since the “museum fatigue” syndrome is dealt with by treating the galleries as self-contained volumes flanked on all sides by promenade space where visitors may momentarily pause before the prospect of an all-encompassing waterscape.


NAOSHIM ART MUSEUM (1992) Naoshima, Japan


24 Although Ando tentatively approached the Japanese sukiya tradition in his early teahouses and his demountable Kara-za theater, made out of steel scaffolding and erected in Sendai in the second half of the 1980s, he did not fully reinterpret this manner until the Japanese pavilion built for the 1992 World Exhibition in Seville. The tectonic exuberance of this work was in no way compromised by Ando’s interpretation of tradition. Wood was used here with the same level of craftsmanship and precise articulation found in traditional Japanese timber houses, although Ando made no attempt to replicate traditional motifs. In fact, the use of triple blocked, bracketed columns, the so-called Kumi-mono, as the crown-

ing centerpiece of the pavilion gave a Chinese rather than a Japanese inflection to the inverted curves determining the overall profile of the pavilion. The Museum of Wood in Hyogo (1991– 94) pursues a similar theme, including an arched bridge, or taikobashi, running along the central axis, much as this is featured in the Seville pavilion and the Kara-za theater. The four cluster columns deployed in Seville are here transformed into sixteen quadripartite, laminated-wood supports that carry a ring of zenithal lights separating the inner cylinder from the outer cone; the external surfaces of both are finished, as in the theater, in vertical tiers of horizontal tim-


SETOUCHI AONAGI (2015) Ehime Prefecture, Japan

ber boarding. This building seems to be a transitional work, since it is Ando’s first circular plan with a reflecting pool in the center, a device he replicated in the cylindrical and elliptical structures of the Awaji Yumebutai complex, completed in 2000.


Anticipated to some extent in the sacred undercroft of the Water Temple is the Komyo-ji Temple completed in Saijo in 2000, Ando’s next excurses into timber. This structure and its temenos replace the seventeenth-century Jôdô Shinshu temple, the main hall of which was so deteriorated that is could no longer be restored. Aside from the gate and belfry of the original compound and the presence of a number of mature trees, this is a totally new complex and, effectively, a reformulation of the Buddhist temple type. As opposed to Ando’s previous forays in steel-reinforced timber construction, here the kumi-mono brackets of the wooden cluster columns do indeed support a layered timber roof through a series of superimposed cantilevering

spars extending beyond the external wall of the temple. The enclosure itself compromises two layers of timber screens separate by a narrow perimeter corridor running around three sides of the inner sanctum and amounting to, in effect, a building within a building. While the outer membrane comprises vertical wooden louvers filled with glass, the three sides of the inner layer are made up of horizontal louvers, fenestrated with frosted glass, and a fourth side left solid. Square in plan, the temple is surrounded on all side by water. This “moat” is discreetly bridged at two points to provide access to the ambulatory and the inner sanctum. The water of the moat, partially shaded by the over hanging roof, functions in conjunction with the double layered wall as a light modulator. Depending on the climate, both ambulatory and sanctum are suffused with light, the level of which varies according to the season and the time of day. At night, the louvered wall, poised above the reflecting pool, serves as a giant lantern.

“When I design buildings, I think of the overall composition, much as the parts of a body would fit together. On top of that, I think about how people will approach the building and experience that space.”

HYOGO PREFECTURAL MUSEUM OF ART (2002) Hyogo Prefectural, Japan


Tadao Ando  
Tadao Ando