"In the land of the unspoken, pierces an entrancing silence".

<strong>SILENCE</strong> A friend of my father, an architect who lives on an island, spoke of silence in a very captivating and engaging way. We live in an age consumed by noise, ever more pervasive, that pushes us to isolate ourselves, to find our more intimate moments, paradoxically in the most distracting and crowded contexts, as in subways, wearing our headphones, listening to music or reading a novel. Silence, precisely because of its precious rarity, ‘saturated with significance more than a chaotic context’, embracing privileged situations or occasional sublime moments of spirituality, represents a stimulating theme to deepen in the architectural language. An essential phase of a creative process, it is able to connote and define the expressive identity of the final product, just as in poetry and music, where each pause, alternated with sound, in rhythmic sequence, depending on the duration of the suspense, provides a minor or greater strength to the composition.

The pause, in general, provokes incisiveness and suggestion; an invitation to participate and to dedicate moments of reflection to ourselves. Cicero, Quintilian and Seneca stressed that a good orator should not only be able to speak persuasively but also to be silent, effectively, recognizing the power of silence and the unsaid: a rhetorical tool, capable of intensifying the impact of a message. Creating seductive silences, away from the loud yells of projects that impose themselves, as fixed giants, architecture can represent an experience in progress, when, not pretending to solve problems, stands as an open listener. Elisabeth Diller —Diller & Scofidio + Renfro studio—said architecture should be considered as "a physical manifestation of possible relationships between people", offering conditions that nurture an active public participation and the freedom to be used in spontaneous ways, beyond those foreseen by the architect. As the High Line in New York: inhabitants felt a real appropriation for the park, and sparked an authentic choral involvement, able to reinvent daily a reality left in a state of neglect for decades. 

Silence can shape the architectural signs and their idiomatic meanings. There are works that, by choosing to remain silent, encourage contaminations, and there are others that intend to whisper to our hearts, where a long hiatus of non-spoken is set as an indispensable prerequisite for an inner, immersive search, and the attempt to reach the transcendental. 

Light and silence appear on stage, dancing with choreographic meaning and orchestrating rhythmic narratives, playing a gripping emotional plot. The reader traces the sequences in an evocative game—the chiaroscuro, the alternating voids and masses— remaining deeply entangled by the captivating seduction of the scenography. Silence imposes itself powerfully. The vibrations resemble the Tibetan ‘Om’; the word loses its codified meaning, acquiring a purely phonetic value: the sound prevails over the mere linguistic convention and a sort of symbolic melody attunes to the harmony of the cosmos.

These exemplary, essential projects, with their apparent simplicity, reiterate an invitation to listen, enhancing our immersive physical experience with the beauty and the essence of nature. They have a catalyzing force, able to sublimate the spatial dimension, making us participants in a more spiritual sphere. Eliminating the superfluous interferences, that represent an obstacle, they push us to share their silence and to take an introspective journey.  

It is what Tadao Ando is able to do, with his minimal features, clean, very short graphic signs, that remind us of the Japanese ‘haiku', poems composed by few words that are aimed at conveying feelings more than explaining a concept. Ando through natural elements and an aesthetic of sensation, connects with spirituality, indifferently designing a house or a church. Through water and light, he recreates and transmits a dimension of silence, which goes beyond the earthly reality, transcending material limits and transfiguring into the abstraction of nothingness and empty space. The Church of the Light and the Church of Tarumi, make use of these two natural elements, light and water, to find a condition of ataraxy, peace and meditation, indispensable to find a contact with the sublime and to understand the essence of life. With these terms the architect synthesizes his poetics and his style: “if you give people nothingness, they can ponder what can be achieved from nothingness".

Tadao Ando: http://www.tadao-ando.com/
Images courtesy of Centre Pompidou : 1. Eglise sur l'eau / Church on the Water 1988 Photo Yoshio Shiratori, 2. Eglise de la lumiere / Church of the Light 1989 Photo Mitsuo Matsuoka, 3. Espace de méditation, UNESCO / Meditation Space, UNESCO, 1995 photo Tadao Ando 4. Eglise de la lumiere / Church of the Light 1989 Photo Mitsuo Matsuoka, 7. Maison Koshino agrandissement / Koshino House Addition 1984 photo Tadao Ando, 8. Musee historique de Sayamaik / Sayamaike Historical Museum 2001 Photo Mitsuo Matsuoka, 6-7 Courtesy of Foundation Langen


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