Japanese self-taught architect, best known for his minimalist concrete buildings, Tadao Ando is one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects. Active natural elements, like sun, rain, and wind are a distinctive inclusion to his contemporary style.
Ando had various careers, including professional boxer, before he became a self-taught architect and opened his own practice in Ōsaka in 1969. In the 1970s and ’80s, he executed a series of mostly small-scale, often residential buildings in Japan such as the Azuma House (1975–76) in Ōsaka and the Koshino House (1979–81) in Ashiya. In these early commissions, he used beautifully detailed reinforced concretewalls, a form that gave his buildings a massive, minimalist appearance and simple, contemplative interior spaces.
Ando’s architectural style is said to create a “haiku” effect, emphasizing nothingness and empty space to represent the beauty of simplicity. He favors designing complex (yet beautifully simple) spatial circulation while maintaining the appearance of simplicity. A self-taught architect, he keeps his Japanese culture and language in mind while he travels around Europe for research.
The simplicity of his architecture emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical experiences, mainly influenced by Japanese culture. The religious term Zen, focuses on the concept of simplicity and concentrates on inner feeling rather than outward appearance. Zen influences vividly show in Ando’s work and became its distinguishing mark.
In order to practice the idea of simplicity, Ando’s architecture is mostly constructed with concrete, providing a sense of cleanliness and weightlessness (even though concrete is a heavy material) at the same time. Due to the simplicity of the exterior, construction, and organization of the space are relatively potential in order to represent the aesthetic of sensation.