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Tadao Ando


Although self-taught, Tadao Ando (1941) is recognized as one of the leading Japanese architects and among the finest exponents of the minimalist approach in contemporary architecture.
Following numerous educational trips across all continents, he opened his own studio in 1969, with which he would work on a vast number of projects.
He also taught at the University of Tokyo and lectured at Yale, Harvard and Columbia Universities.

His first construction project in 1973 was the Tomishima detached house, the first of a series of houses with similar features. The most significant of which is the Azuma house in Osaka (1976), that won awards in Japan and provided a springboard to international acclaim.
The 65 sq.m. house’s pared back, minimalist style confined by wooden townhouses is “the negation of a clear boundary between the courtyard space and interior, carried over from Japanese house-building traditions” (Baglione).

Furthermore, the small house reveals a number of recurring features of Ando’s work, light effects, the importance of walls and partitioning (which also includes materials), and the “relationship between pure geometry and natural elements”.
This latter aspect is especially evident in the eponymous Rokko I and II housing developments (built between 1978 and 1993), where Ando has made use of the natural slopes of the Mount Rokko to build houses with views over the Bay of Osaka.
With regard to his profession, Ando states: "I believe that architecture is not the construction of buildings but rather the creation of space. I always try to reduce all the material elements as much as possible so the space itself can become rich and stimulating."
His designs notably include places of worship (the Church of Light in Ibaraki, 1989 and Chapel on the Water in Tomamu, 1991) in addition to shopping centers in Kyoto and Tokyo.

The strictly geometric lines with which he expresses “the evocative spatial features of a typically Japanese interior” leads him to create exhibition centers, trade fair halls, research centers (including Benetton’s “Fabrica” at Villorba) and most importantly a series of museums, including the Museum of Wood (Hyogo, 1994), Museum of Culture (Gojo, 1995), and Museum of Modern Art (Kobe, 2001).
Other notable projects are the restoration of Palazzo Grassi (2005) and Contemporary Art Center (Punta della Dogana, 2009) in Venice.
In the new Millennium Ando worked on detached houses. Overlooking the sea. The 4x4 house at Kobe (2003) is a “small tower in reinforced concrete (…) which examined the theme of reducing living space to the minimum, imposed by the scarcity of available land" (Domus).
The Wabi House, Puerto Escondido (2014) is a home/artists’ retreat, designed on the principles of Japanese wabi-sabi which embraces beauty in imperfection and the natural surroundings, as well as in the materials. Here, in addition to reinforced concrete, Ando also uses wood and stone for flooring and dried palm leaves for the roof, in line with local tradition.

The artist in Ando is particularly reflected in the numerous art museums and cultural centers that feature prominently in his recent work.
These include the Roberto Garza Sada Center for Art Architecture and Design in Monterrey (Mexico, 2012), Ando’s first project in Latin America, designed as a six-storey concrete block. The imposing building, which houses studios and meeting rooms for various creative disciplines (visual and digital arts, photography and textile workshops), has an enormous triangular span at its center, at ground level, vaguely inspired by Japanese “torii” and symbolic of openness and welcome. This void is in deliberately contrast to the overall structure which appears closed off from the outside except for small rows of windows on the side.  Inside, by expertly alternating solid and void, numerous highly evocative light-filled open spaces are created for meetings and teaching. The building quite clearly has a certain monumentality which nonetheless naturally combines ease of use with the versatility of the various areas.

The Asia Museum Of Modern Art in Taichung (Taiwan, 2013), affiliated to Asia University, is constructed on a strictly triangular footprint which redefines the urban landscape, yet links the various academic activities on the surrounding university campus. Ando resolved the difficulties of the uncompromising triangular structure with solutions that soften its visual impact and dramatic appearance. For example, the 3 floors are stacked in such a way as to create an exterior patio on the ground floor with cafés and other areas to congregate.
The Aurora Museum in Shanghai (2013) is inspired by the clear, precise geometric shape of a jewelry box. In Huangpu by night, the museum is like a deep blue jewelry box, quiet and reserved”. The exhibition area and structure of the building (a 6,000 sq.m. plus private museum over 6 floors) are skillfully and naturally combined for a dramatic and penetrating effect” which creates an original city landmark.

The Pearl Art Museum in Shanghai (2017) is a multi-functional arts space that promotes exhibitions and cultural events, linked to publishing in particular, since the non-profit body which manages it focuses on promoting literature and art. Located inside a shopping mall, the museum was designed by Ando “in the shape of an egg” and covers an area of over 4,000 sq.m. Light, a key element in his designs, plays a decisive role in defining the space. Ando explains: “The creation of space in architecture is simply the condensation and purification of the power of light. In my work, light is always a crucial element to dramatize the entire space, because light enables the creation of unexpected visual effects”.

Numerous prizes awarded during his long career include the Pritzker Prize (1995), Imperial Prize (1996) and RIBA Award (1997).
Tadao Ando selected works and projects
- Wrightwood 659, Chicago (USA), 2018
- Pearl Art Museum, Shanghai (Cina), 2017
- Hill of the Buddha, Sapporo (Giappone), 2015
- JCC - Jaeneung Culture Center, Seul (Corea del Sud), 2015
- Wabi House, Puerto Escondido (Messico), 2014
- Aurora Museum, Shanghai (Cina), 2013
- The Museum SAN - Space Art Nature, Wonju (Corea del Sud), 2013
- Asia Museum of Modern Art, Wufeng, Taichung (Taiwan), 2013
- Bonte Museum, Seogwipo (Corea del Sud), 2012
- Rinnovamento Akita Museum of Art, Akita (Giappone), 2012
- Centro Roberto Garza Sada of Art Architecture and Design, Monterrey (Messico), 2012
- Capella Niseko Resort and Residences, Niseko (Giappone), 2010
- Restauro Punta della Dogana - Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Venezia (Italia), 2009
- Glass House e Genius Loci, Seopjikoji (Corea del Sud), 2008
- Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum, Matsuyama (Giappone), 2006
- Picture Book Museum, Iwaki (Giappone), 2005
- Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Kagawa (Giappone), 2004
- Langen Foundation, Neuss (Germania), 2004
- 4x4 house, Kobe (Giappone), 2003
- Ampliamento Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth (USA), 2002
- Show Room Armani, Milano (Italia), 2001
- Awaji-Yumebutai, Hyogo (Giappone) 2000
- Fabrica, centro di ricerca Benetton, Villorba (Italia), 2000
- Museo Daylight, Shiga (Giappone), 1998
- Museo della Cultura, Gojyo (Giappone), 1997
- Nagaragawa Convention Center, Gifu (Giappone), 1995
- Museo del legno, Hyogo (Giappone) 1994
- Museo Suntory, Osaka (Giappone), 1994
- Ampliamento del Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Naoshima (Giappone), 1994
- Sede seminari Vitra, Weil am Rhein (Germania), 1993
- Padiglione giapponese, Esposizione Universale di Siviglia (Spagna), 1992
- Museo delle Tombe, Kunamoto (Giappone), 1992
- Tempio dell’Acqua, Awajishima (Giappone), 1991
- Museo della Letteratura, Himeji (Giappone), 1991
- Museo dei Bambini, Himeji (Giappone), 1989
- Centro Commerciale Collezione, Tokyo (Giappone), 1989
- Chiesa della Luce, Ibaraki, Osaka (Giappone), 1989
- Cappella sull’Acqua, Tomamu (Giappone), 1988
- Cappella sul Monte, Rokko (Giappone), 1986
- Complesso residenziale Rokko Housing One (1983) e Housing Two (1993), Rokko (Giappone)
- Row House (Azuma House), Sumiyoshi (Giappone), 1976
- Abitazioni ad Osaka, Ashiya, Tokyo (Giappone), 1973-1986
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