Tadao Ando's designs are characterised by their innovative integration of natural light and their prolific use of reinforced concrete for both structure and aesthetic. The silky smooth surface of his cast concrete is achieved through meticulously crafted wooden form moulds that have an additional layer of varnish applied. Ando's attentiveness to the framing of light and space generates a spatial harmony in his structures, rendering the concrete's presence effortless, minimal, and balanced.Read More
Ando states: 'I create enclosed spaces mainly by means of thick concrete walls. The primary reason is to create a place for the individual, a zone for oneself within society. When the external factors of a city's environment require the wall to be without openings, the interior must be especially full and satisfying. ... Such things as light and wind only have meaning when they are introduced inside a house in a form cut off from the outside world. I create architectural order on the basis of geometry squares, circles, triangles and rectangles. I try to use forces in the area where I am building, to restore the unity between house and nature (light and wind) that was lost in the process of modernising Japanese houses during the rapid growth of the fifties and sixties.'
Towards the end of the 1980s, Ando began to work more in settings surrounded by nature, as opposed to the urban regions he designed for during the 1960s and 70s. This enabled him to develop an approach that saw architecture integrated harmoniously into landscapes to complement the environment and highlight its unique features.
Ando's Church on the Water (1988) in Hokkaido exemplifies these principles. Built upon a sloping clearing within a beech forest near a small river, the chapel appears to float above a pond. Similarly, The Church of the Light (1989) in Ibaraki, Osaka demonstrates Ando's use of concrete to shape space and filter natural light to enhance the purpose of a building.