For my 6th installment of my Arch+Details Series I want to focus on my favorite architect: Tadao Ando. Throughout my studies I have come across styles and theories that I have fell in love with, but for me Ando is the complete package. As a little preface before I go into Ando's background, at Columbia if you are an architecture major there is something called a cluster which you need in order to graduate. A cluster consists of 3 classes that fall under the same department/theme/area of study etc, which is pretty cool because it allowed me and my classmates to go into other areas that have nothing to do with architecture, or if we wanted to, go more in depth in a specific area of the field. Sophomore year I took Modern Japanese Architecture which is where I was first introduced to Ando and where my interest in the Japanese culture increased, so I based my cluster surrounding the Japanese culture. The class was fascinating because it also gave a historical context as background information to exemplify why and how Japanese Architecture changed. Along with this course I also took "Arts of Japan", "Early Cinema of the 1970's" which focused on Japanese cinema, and aside of my cluster I also took "Buddhism: East Asia". So I had a wide range of knowledge in different mediums and topics focusing on Japan. And I found this important because I was able to understand Ando's practice and approach to architecture a lot more if I didn't take such courses. Even my final Design 2 project reflects the work of Ando, and if you haven't seen it you can refer back to my "Portfolio Samples" and Design 2" blog posts to look at my project. Now, as far as Ando, he was born September 13. 1941 in Japan and he actually had an unusual path in becoming an architect. He use to be a truck driver and even was a boxer before finally deciding on architecture. And if that isn't different enough, he never received a formal education in architecture. His knowledge of architecture came from traveling and studying works from big names such as Louis Kahn, Meis Van de Rohe and Corbusier. His work can described as "emphasizing the nothingness to represent the beauty of simplicity." Ando was really conscious in keeping his culture in mind as he created and one of the biggest driving forces apparent in his work is the thought are the religious beliefs of Japan. For him, the sensation and physical experience of walking through spaces was the most important thing. I guess you can say his work followed the line of "form before function," or is it the other way around? I will let you decide for yourself from the photos below of his work. It is safe to say that Ando is in love with concrete, I mean it is a popular and useful material, but for him that is all he really needed. And I think his work is remarkable because it really forced him to be creative in laying out his plans and design without the concrete being boring and excessive. His work also took into account natural light and nature. His projects never reformed the landscape, but rather the landscape reformed his projects which was influenced by his culture and Zen practice. Overall I enjoy how Ando takes a material that is described as heavy and bulky and make it simple, clean and intimate on the various scaled projects he has completed over his career!
Above: The Koshino House was completed in 1984 is one of Ando's most famous designs. It is partially built in the ground which ties back to his practice of not disrupting the land. It is made with concrete and the design is essentially a "maze of light and shadows." In the images above you can see that light replaces the usage of ornamentation. I think it is brilliant how Ando situated many slits in the concrete to allow light to enter the house and create beautiful patterns and shadows that act as home decor. There are also large windows which helps bring in the natural elements into the house like a light breeze and views of the hills.
Above: the Row House, also referred to as the Azuma House, was completed in 1976. What makes this building unique is the placement of the structure and its simple yet sophisticated layout. In the image above you can it is squeezed between 2 other structures and appears as a concrete rectangle. But within the facade there are 2 floors with a walking bridge, interior "garden", 2 rooms, kitchen and living room. Again, we can see the traditional Ando characteristics: concrete, large windows, play of light and shadow and bringing in natural elements (literately). The middle third of the structure is open to the heavens which allows in not just light but rain. It has a very comfortable setting which is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city it is in.
Check out below images of other projects completed by Ando!!