The star of architecture Tadao Andô 忠雄安藤
Tadao Andô, itinerary of a self-taught architect
From the boxing ring to the most prestigious international architecture prize, this is the extraordinary journey of the Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, who accounts for more than 300 architectural achievements around the world since his beginnings in Osaka in 1969.
An atypical course
Tadao Ando is entirely self-taught. The former professional boxer without any architectural diploma nevertheless belongs today to the very elite cast of "starchitectes".
Born, 1941 in Osaka, Ando was raised by his grandmother. As a teenager, he frequented artisan workshops (joiners, carpenters, ironworkers and glassmakers) on a daily basis; which reveal in him a certain taste for architecture and creation. He also enjoys wandering the streets of Osaka in search of old buildings to study. Thus begins his informal apprenticeship in architecture.
After hanging up his boxing gloves, around the age of 24, he worked in furniture design, interior architecture and house renovations . He buys second-hand architectural manuals in which he discovers the works of Le Corbusier. Particularly impressed by the work of the French architect, he undertakes a long artistic and educational journey, he says: "to visit the buildings which inspire", to experience their spaces and remember them with my body ". Between 1962 and 1969, he traveled the world to see great architectural masterpieces to perfect his self-learning. It is also the occasion for him to appreciate the achievements of Le Corbusier in Paris and Marseilles and the Cistercian abbeys of the south of France.
On his return to Osaka in 1969, he founded his agency and began his work by building small detached houses in the early 1970s.
One of his first achievements, the Azuma house in Sumiyoshi district, will make him the architect to follow. Entirely made of concrete, it occupies a tiny space between traditional-style houses. Ando plays with the narrowness of the land by imagining a house with a blind facade with an interior courtyard space that allows its occupants to escape the urban madness. Completed in 1976, it will be crowned with the Prize of the Institute of Architecture of Japan in 1979. Tadao Ando acquired the property in 1982 to base the headquarters of his architectural firm.
The 1990s are synonymous with consecration. He created the Japanese pavilion for the Seville Universal Exhibition in 1992; the most noticed and visited the pavilion. The largest museums in the world are already devoting major retrospectives to him: the MOMA in New York in 1991 and the Center Georges Pompidou in 1993. After receiving the very prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1995, he was appointed full professor at the University of Tokyo; the self-taught architect!
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A desire: "To touch the soul of the people"
Tadao Ando will then speak in any type of project (church, museum, spiritual place, foundation) in the heart of nature as well as in the heart of large cities guided by his precept: "I realize my architectures by asking myself how I could design things that remain engraved in the souls of men for eternity ".
The author of the rehabilitations of the exhibition spaces of the contemporary art collection of businessman François Pinault in Venice and Paris, he is also behind the design of the Tokyo Sky Tree.
The architect of Naoshima
In 1989, Soichiro Fukutake, president of the Benesse company and initiator of this museum island, asked Ando for the construction of the Benesse House . This hotel-museum is an unparalleled site offering spectacular views of the sea and the surrounding volcanic islands. Ando, then built the hotel annex, a huge oval; a perfect fusion of nature and its architecture. He also created the Minamidera, a wooden building housing a work by American artist James Turell.
In the 2000s, he designed two other museums on the island; the Chichu Art Museum and the Lee U-fan Museum . The creation of his own museum on Naoshima is an additional mark of the architect's intimate relationship with the place: he is the man of Naoshima.
What is Tadao Andô's style?
Simple geometric shapes
Using a minimal vocabulary of the form (circle, square, rectangle, etc.) as well as a reduced range of materials, his style is immediately recognizable. Through the economy of means and simplicity, Ando is part of a certain Japanese tradition while also drawing inspiration from the Western styles of Le Corbusier, the Bauhaus, and the American architect Louis Kahn.
Ando has a predilection for concrete, the appearance of which changes over time and captures light. Paying particular attention to detail, he took his quest for refinement to the extreme by developing his concrete formula. Although left raw, its concrete is smooth and delicate, resembling brushed or painted concrete.
Architecture as a place of refuge
Tadao Ando's buildings are designed as havens of peace, behind closed doors against urban chaos. The built space is an architecture-refuge isolating from the urban public space. This is why many of his dwellings are organized around an interior courtyard allowing light to penetrate and creating a protective cocoon.
The integration of natural elements (water and light)
Ando uses natural elements as architectural elements in their own right. In its Church of Light, built in 1989 in Ibaraki, where the sun penetrates the building through a cross-shaped opening, it is indeed the light that materializes the sacred quality of the place. A remarkable example of harmony between a natural element and concrete architecture.
The essential works of Tadao Ando in Japan
Among 300 architectural achievements spread over some fifty countries, it is very difficult to retain only a few. However, Japan Experience offers a small selection of the master's works in the archipelago. A choice guided by essential criteria; that accessibility to the public in order to be able to discover these places from every angle!
- The Church of Light in Ibaraki. Address: 4 Chome-3-50 Kitakasugaoka, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0048
- The Church on the Water. Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu District, Hokkaido 079-2204, Japan
- The Shiba Ryotaro Museum. Address: 3 Chome-11-18 Shimokosaka, Higashiosaka, Osaka 577-0803.
- The Iwaki Illustrated Book Museum. Address: Katsutsuo-209-17 Tairatoyoma, Iwaki, Fukushima 970-0224.
- Awaji-Yumebutai. Address: Awaji, Hyogo, Japan
- Naoshima Island
- The Omotesando Hills shopping complex in the Omotesando district . Address: 4 Chome-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001
- Makomanai Takino cemetery and its Buddha hill . Address: 2 Takino, Minami Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 005-0862
- 21_21 Design Sight . Address: 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- The Azuma house: this is not a public place since it has been the seat of the architect's agency since 1982, but worth a mention. It is and will remain the iconic house of the master; the one who started it all and where every project begins. Address: 2 Chome-13 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka