“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CREATION FROM NOTHING” – Tadao Ando

Andō Tadao, (born September 13, 1941, Ōsaka, Japan), one of Japan’s leading contemporary architects. He is best known for his minimalist concrete buildings.

Andō had various careers, including professional boxer, before he became a self-taught architect and opened his own practice in Ōsaka in 1969. In the 1970s and ’80s he executed a series of mostly small-scale, often residential buildings in Japan, such as the Azuma House (1976) in Ōsaka and the Koshino House (19781) in Ashiya. In these early commissions, he used beautifully detailed reinforced concrete walls, a form that gave his buildings a massive minimalist appearance and simple contemplative interior spaces. These works established the aesthetic Andō would continue throughout his career: essentially Modernist, coming out of the tradition of Le Corbusier’s experiments with concrete, his work is also rooted in the spirituality of Japanese architectural space. Andō’s structures were often in harmony with their natural environments, taking advantage of natural light in a dramatically expressive way. In his Church of Light (1990) in the Ōsaka suburb of Ibaraki, for example, a cruciform shape is cut out of the concrete wall behind the altar; when daylight hits the outside of this wall, a cross of light is generated within the interior.

Ando’s architectural style is said to create a “haiku” effect, emphasizing nothingness and empty space to represent the beauty of simplicity. He favors designing complex spatial circulation while maintaining the appearance of simplicity. A self-taught architect, he keeps his Japanese culture and language in mind while he travels around Europe for research. As an architect, he believes that architecture can change society, that “to change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society”. “Reform society” could be a promotion of a place or a change of the identity of that place. Werner Blaser has said, “Good buildings by Tadao Ando create memorable identity and therefore publicity, which in turn attracts the public and promotes market penetration”

“Architecture has a rational function that should live in people’s real lives. Therefore, I do not consider architecture as art, nor do I consider architects to be artists. However, I do have a strong desire to improve the purity of my expression and put a strong message into my architecture so that I can call it art!” – Tadao Ando