Japanese architect Tadao Ando spent his early years as a professional boxer and truck driver, until he changed course, taught himself architecture and eventually became one of the Great Fathers of contemporary architecture.
The first building to bring real attention to Japanese architect Tadao Ando (b. 1941), six years after he founded his studio, was his iconic Azuma House / Rowhouse in Sumiyoishi, completed in 1976 in Osaka. The small concrete house took a radical approach toward the city, closing itself completely off and letting the inhabitant enter an entirely private and beautifully organized microcosmos in the middle of a bustling city that had, in the public’s opinion, grown ugly and full of houses bereft of charm.
Since then, Ando has completed an almost endless list of buildings both in Japan and other countries, and his buildings all demonstrate the celebration of classical beauty: austere, yet complex compositions of geometric shapes, impressive in situ concrete elements and striking daylight effects are among Ando’s trademarks. It seems that Ando does not do ‘subtle’, and his grandiose style has made him a popular designer of religious buildings as well as art museums, including his comprehensive work at Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Meanwhile, Ando has also continued to design smaller houses – among others 4×4 House on a beachfront site in Kobe, completed in 2003.
The self-taught architect learned his first lessons by studying the buildings of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn, and the inspiration from Western modernism is evident throughout his work. During his long and prosperous career, Tadao Ando has received almost every conceivable prize of architecture, counting among many others the Carlsberg Architectural Prize (1992), the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1995) and the Gold Medal of the AIA (2002).
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