Tadao Ando is considered the architect that best represents the minimalist movement, which is made of pure shapes and essential elements.
He is the only architect to have won the discipline’s four most prestigious prizes: the Pritzker (1995), Carlsberg (1992), Praemium Imperiale (1996), and Kyoto Prize (2002).
Born in Osaka in 1941, Tadao Ando gave up his career as a professional boxer in 1965 in order to follow his passion for architecture. Therefore he decided to embark on a long journey around the world to teach himself the architectural profession.
This “grand tour” was precisely the beginning of his training as an architect, until he started his first architectural firm in his home city in 1969.
TADAO ANDO AND HIS FIRST WORKS
At the beginning of his career, most of his works were dedicated to the designing of single-family houses, among which we should mention Tomishima House in Osaka, that was built in 1973 and later housed the offices of his architectural firm.
Whereas in 1976 he designed a small row house, in which he expressed his will to bring changes in society by means of architectural works, in order to improve the awful housing conditions of the time.
TADAO ANDO AND THE CONCEPT OF THE WALL
With the designs of Azuma House in 1979 and Koshino House in 1980, one of the most important traits of the Japanese architect’s artistic philosophy of composition emerges, that is the wall.
The concept of the wall finds its full expression in Tadao Ando’s later religious projects.
The works by the Japanese architect are strongly influenced by the modern movement, especially by Le Corbusier’s artistic philosophy of composition, but this main influence is also accompanied by the connection with the Japanese traditional architecture, which lends an “artisanal” nature to Tadao Ando’s works, especially when it comes to finishing the details.
Tadao Ando gained international fame in the ‘80s, when he signed a number of projects including the Chapel of the Wind, built in 1986, the Chapel on the Water, built in Hokkaido in 1988, and the Church of Light.
TADAO ANDO ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN CONCEPT
It is no coincidence that these three works are dedicated to natural elements such as the wind, the water and the light. In these works, Tadao Ando merges the use of rational, minimalist shapes and the presence of natural elements which highlight the strength of its pure shapes.
The works by the Japanese architect almost exclusively consider the use of exposed reinforced concrete, combined with the use of wood, stone and, above all, light.
Tadao Ando’s meditative design draws our attention to the beauty in silence and the power of simplicity.
Light is used as a material, in order to give strength, life, personality to the project. The highest expression of the relationship between Tadao Ando and light as a compositional and material element is definitely the Church of Light.
TADAO ANDO AND CHURCH OF LIGHT
The Church of Light consists of a reinforced concrete parallelepiped, in which one of the smaller walls, the one behind the altar, is not a full element. A cross-shaped beam of light indeed “cuts” the entire depth of the wall. This way, a cruciform light source is created, which is the only reference to religious symbolism in the liturgical hall.
The orientation of the plan was designed so that this cut of light would be south-oriented and would therefore collect the most direct sunrays throughout the entire day.
TADAO ANDO – WATER TEMPLE
The Water Temple is a greatly “destructive” sensory experience compared to the thousand-year-old temple-building tradition in Japan. Honpukuji, the Water Temple, was built between 1990 and 1991. This underground sanctuary was the residence of Japan’s oldest Tantric Buddhism cult, founded in 815, and is located under a large oval lotus pond. The resulting experience is totally immersive: the experience of being in an architectural space.
TADAO ANDO’S WORKS IN EUROPE AND AMERICA
There are numerous works by Tadao Ando in Europe and America, of which the first one, both time-wise and in order of importance, is definitely the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Built between 1991 and 2001, this building stems from Joseph Pulitzer’s will to create a new space for his collection of modern and contemporary art within the Arts District in St. Louis, which was experiencing great decay.
Ando didn’t betray his artistic philosophy of composition when he created a building made of exposed reinforced concrete which, from the outside, looks like a massive, closed building, like some sort of safe for valuables, while indoors the large glass windows let the light as well as glimpses of the surrounding landscape come inside, thus accompanying the visitors throughout the exhibition itinerary.
In Europe, after the first creation of the Japan Pavilion for Expo 1992 in Seville, Tadao Ando created the new location for seminars at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein.
TADAO ANDO IN NEW YORK
In 2017, in New York, Tadao Ando completed the 152 Elizabeth, a seven-storey residential building in the heart of Nolita. That was the first work by the Japanese architect in the Big Apple. Developed by Sumaida + Khurana which aimed to create a unique architectural value, today the 152 Elizabeth has proven to be a benchmark for the quality of the residential development of that area. Cast-in-place concrete, burnished metal, wide use of glass and a wall of green plants: all of the main features of Tadao Ando’s philosophy are there.
TADAO ANDO AND THE INTERVENTION AT THE VITRA CAMPUS
For the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, the headquarters of the well-known company that manufactures designer pieces of furniture and furnishing accessories, Tadao Ando created the new location for seminars (1993). The building is located in front of the Vitra Museum designed by Frank O. Gehry, and is antithetical to it both in terms of position and in terms of linguistic approach.
Ando’s building consists of two floors, one of which is underground and includes a series of conference rooms. It’s a calm, sober intervention that is in line with the Japanese architect’s mindset and is characterized by a very neat spatial articulation.
One of the main features of this building is the path that leads to the entrance of the pavilion and has got a strong and meaningful connection with the meditation paths in the gardens of the Japanese monasteries. It’s a long wall made of exposed reinforced concrete that leads the visitor from the garden to the entrance. Since this building is immersed in an area of the campus garden that is full of cherry trees, Tadao Ando’s goal was to preserve as many trees as possible. Cherry trees are indeed very important in the Japanese tradition and, in order to recall the memory of the only three trees that were chopped down to erect the building, some leaves impressed in concrete were added to the exterior wall.
TADAO ANDO AND THE RESTORATION WORKS
In his Venice projects, Tadao Ando had to deal with restoration works of historic buildings located in very important contexts, besides being crucial points of the City of Water.
At Palazzo Grassi he also had to face, besides a building overlooking the Grand Canal, a previous restoration intervention by the architect Gae Aulenti.
The project for Palazzo Grassi interprets the relationship between old and modern in a new way. For his exhibition itinerary inside the building, Ando imagined the interposition of some sort of hiatus, like an interruption of expression, represented by the white walls and the light grey flooring which stand for the “new”, in order to make the richness of old even more surprising by way of contrast.
TADAO ANDO AND PUNTA DELLA DOGANA
The new centre for Contemporary Art Punta della Dogana of the François Pinault Foundation was opened in 2009. Tadao Ando’s intervention for this historic building overlooking a strategic spot of the city is the result of a thorough research aimed at reinventing the preexisting works, thus preserving the original structure while trying to best connect it with modernity.
The Punta della Dogana building is characterized by a simple, rational structure. Its volume creates a triangle, which is in line with the geographical conformation of the Dorsoduro island, while the inside is divided into long rectangles. The intervention aims to restore the first volumes, wherever possible, and to reestablish the original morphology of the load-bearing structures. Ando contrasts the original elements and materials with the use of glass plates and exposed reinforced concrete in order to create the connection between old and new.
TADAO ANDO AND THE TEATRINO DI PALAZZO GRASSI
As the final stage of François Pinault’s cultural project in Venice, in 2013 Tadao Ando also found himself working in the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi. The building was left in a state of neglect when the theatre closed in 1978, and Tadao Ando decided to intervene by keeping the façades intact, while the cladding and the interiors would be the true protagonists of the renovation.
Ando interprets indeed the inside of the theatre by planning all of those rooms that have nothing to do with the museum itself, but that are still relevant to the activity of Palazzo Grassi, such as conference rooms. The peculiarity of this intervention is precisely the dialogue between the outside of the historic building and the inside that unfolds into a series of rooms in which flat, shiny surfaces, asymmetric skylights and triangle cuts prevail, embracing the minimalist style.
TADAO ANDO AND THE BOURSE DE COMMERCE
A very important project Tadao Ando is working on is the Bourse de Commerce, the new museum commissioned by François Pinault that is going to host his art collection of the former Stock Exchange and should open in Paris in 2019.
The goal is to renovate an 18th century building in a modern way, to regenerate it and to transform it into a contemporary art museum. Like for the interventions of Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Tadao Ando introduces new architectural elements so that the historic building can communicate with its new purpose.
Ando’s project is focused on the addition of a new volume, that is a homogeneous concrete cylinder under the dome of the historic building.
The dome is the distinctive element of the Bourse de Commerce building, and the new volume is placed under it precisely to highlight this peculiarity, in a constant dialogue between old and new.
TADAO ANDO: PROJECTS
|Shibata House||Ashiya, Hyogo||Japan||1974|
|Takahashi House||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1975|
|Sumiyoshi (Azuma House)||Sumiyoshi, Osaka||Japan||1976|
|Tezukayama Square||Sumiyoshi, Osaka||Japan||1976|
|Wall House (Matsumoto House)||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1977|
|Glass Block House (Ishihara House)||Osaka||Japan||1978|
|Okusu House||Setagaya, Tokyo||Japan||1978|
|Glass Block Wall (Horiuchi House)||Sumiyoshi, Osaka||Japan||1979|
|Onishi House||Sumiyoshi, Osaka||Japan||1979|
|Matsumoto House||Wakayama, zona di Wakayama||Japan||1980|
|Fuku House||Wakayama, Wakayama||Japan||1980|
|Bansho House Addition||Aichi||Japan||1981|
|Koshino House||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1981|
|Kojima Housing (Sato House)||Okayama||Japan||1981|
|Tea House – Soseikan-Yamaguchi House||Hyōgo||Japan||1982|
|Akabane House||Setagaya, Tokyo||Japan||1982|
|Kujo Townhouse (Izutsu House)||Osaka||Japan||1982|
|Rokko Housing One||Rokko, Hyōgo||Japan||1983|
|Bigi Atelier||Shibuya, Tokyo||Japan||1983|
|Kaneko House||Shibuya, Tokyo||Japan||1983|
|Koshino House Addition||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1984|
|Shinsaibashi TO Building||Osaka||Japan||1984|
|Iwasa House||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1984|
|Atelier Yoshie Inaba||Shibuya, Tokyo||Japan||1985|
|Guest House for Hattori House||Osaka||Japan||1985|
|Taiyō Cement Headquarters Building||Osaka||Japan||1986|
|Old / New Rokkov||Kobe||Japan||1986|
|Kidosaki House||Setagaya, Tokyo||Japan||1986|
|Fukuhara Clinic||Setagaya, Tokyo||Japan||1986|
|Sasaki House||Minato, Tokyo||Japan||1986|
|Main Pavilion for Tennoji Fair||Osaka||Japan||1987|
|Ueda House (restyling)||Okayama||Japan||1987|
|Children Museum||Himeji, Hyōgo||Japan||1989|
|Church of Light||Area di Ibaraki, Osaka||Japan||1989|
|Morozoff P & P Studio||Kobe||Japan||1989|
|Yao Clinic, Neyagawa||Osaka||Japan||1989|
|Matsutani House (restyling)||Kyoto||Japan||1990|
|Ito House, Setagaya||Tokyo||Japan||1990|
|Iwasa House Addition||Ashiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1990|
|Giardino delle Belle Arti||Osaka||Japan||1990|
|Water Temple||Isola di Awaji, Hyōgo||Japan||1991|
|Atelier Oyodo II||Osaka||Japan||1991|
|Literature Museum||Himeji, Hyōgo||Japan||1991|
|Minolta Seminar House||Kobe||Japan||1991|
|Benesse House||Naoshima, Kagawa||Japan||1992|
|Japanese Pavillon Expo 92||Siviglia||Spain||1992|
|Otemae Art Center||Nishinomiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1992|
|Museum Forest of Tombs||Kumamoto||Japan||1992|
|Rokko Housing Two||Rokko, Kobe||Japan||1993|
|Vitra Seminar House||Weil am Rhein||Germany||1993|
|YKK Seminar House||Chiba||Japan||1993|
|Chikatsu Asuka Museum||Osaka||Japan||1994|
|Kiyo Bank, Sakai Building||Sakai, Osaka||Japan||1994|
|Garden of Fine Art||Kyoto||Japan||1994|
|Wood Museum||Kami, Hyōgo||Japan||1994|
|Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum||Naoshima, Kagawa||Japan||1995|
|Atelier Oyodo Annex||Osaka||Japan||1995|
|Naoshima Museum Art Contemporary||Naoshima, Kagawa||Japan||1995|
|Meditation Space, UNESCO||Parigi||France||1995|
|Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art||Kyoto||Japan||1995|
|Shanghai Pusan Ferry Terminal||Osaka||Japan||1996|
|Museum of Literature II, Himeji||Hyōgo||Japan||1996|
|Chiisaime Gallery (Sawada House)||Nishinomiya, Hyōgo||Japan||1996|
|Gojo Museum||Gojo, Nara||Japan||1997|
|Toto Seminar House||Hyōgo||Japan||1997|
|Natural Forest Museum – Yokogurayama||Kōchi||Japan||1997|
|Harima Kogen Higashi Primary School & Junior High School||Hyōgo||Japan||1997|
|Koumi Kogen Museum||Nagano||Japan||1997|
|Eychaner / Lee House||Chicago, Illinois||USA||1997|
|Junichi Watanabe Memorial Hall||Sapporo||Japan||1998|
|Asahi Shimbun Okayama Bureau||Okayama||Japan||1998|
|Siddhartha Children and Women Hospital||Butwal||Nepal||1998|
|Church of the Light Sunday School||Ibaraki, Osaka||Japan||1999|
|Rokko Housing III ‘||Kobe||Japan||1999|
|Shell Museum, Nishinomiya||Hyōgo||Japan||1999|
|Fabrica (Benetton Communication Research Center)||Villorba||Italy||2000|
|Rockfield Shizuoka Factory||Shizuoka||Japan||2000|
|Pulitzer Arts Foundation||St. Louis, nel Missouri||USA||2001|
|Ryotaro Shiba Memorial Museum||Higashiosaka, area di Osaka||Japan||2001|
|Armani World Headquarters||Milano||Italy||2001|
|Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art||Kobe, Hyōgo||Japan||2002|
|Fort Worth Museum Art Contemporary||Fort Worth, Texas||USA||2002|
|Invisible House||Ponzano Veneto||Italy||2004|
|Chichu Art Museum||Naoshima, Kagawa||Japan||2004|
|Gunma Insect World Insect Observation Hall||Kiryū, Gunma||Japan||2005|
|Picture Book Museum||Iwaki, Fukushima||Japan||2005|
|Museo di Saka no Ue no Kumo||Matsuyama, Ehime||Japan||2006|
|Morimoto (restaurant)||Chelsea Market, Manhattan||USA||2005|
|Omotesando Hills, Jingumae 4-Chome||Tokyo||Japan||2006|
|House in Shiga||Ōtsu, Shiga||Japan||2006|
|21 21 Design Sight||Minato, Tokyo||Japan||2007|
|Stone Hill Center expansion for the Clark Art Institute||Williamstown, Massachusetts||USA||2008|
|Glass House||Seopjikoji||South Korea||2008|
|Genius Loci||Seopjikoji||South Korea||2008|
|Punta della Dogana (restoration)||Venezia||Italy||2009|
|House, stable, and mausoleum for fashion designer and film director Tom Ford’s Cerro Pelon Ranch||Santa Fe, New Mexico||USA||2009|
|Rebuilding the Kobe Kaisei Hospital||Nada Ward, Kobe||Japan||2009|
|Gate of Creation, Universidad de Monterrey||Monterrey||Mexico||2009|
|Capella Niseko Resort and Residences||Niseko, distretto di Abuta, Shiribeshi, Hokkaido||Japan||2010|
|Interior design of Miklós Ybl Villa||Budapest||Hungary||2010|
|Kaminoge Station, Tokyu Corporation||Tokyo||Japan||2011|
|Centro Roberto Garza Sada of Art Architecture and Design||Monterrey||Mexico||2012|
|Akita Museum of Art||Akita, Akita||Japan||2012|
|Bonte Museum||Seogwipo||South Korea||2012|
|Asia Museum of Modern Art||Wufeng, Taichung||Taiwan||2013|
|Hansol Museum (Museum SAN)||Wonju||South Korea||2013|
|Visitor, Exhibition and Conference Center, Clark Art Institute||Williamstown, Massachusetts||USA||2014|
|Casa Wabi||Puerto Escondido, Oax||Mexico||2014|
|JCC (Jaeneung Culture Center)||Seoul||South Korea||2015|
|Hill of the Buddha||Sapporo||Japan||2015|
|Pearl Art Museum||Shanghai||China||2017|
|152 Elizabeth Street Condominiums||New York, New York||USA||2018|
TADAO ANDO: LATEST NEWS
In Tokyo, at National Archives of Modern Architecture, until September 23, 2019 is available a very interesting exhibition dedicated to Tadao Ando early drawings.
His first architectural materials, the hand-drawn plans and sketches from the 1970s, can be seen.
The projects presented the main masterpieces in Japan, such as the Row House in Sumiyoshi (1976), the Koshino House (1981), Rokko Housing Ⅰ (1983), Time’s Ⅰ (1984), the Kidosaki House (1986), the Church on the Water (1988), and the Church of the Light (1989).