PORT Magazine recently sat down with influential Japanese architect Tadao Ando at his impressive Osaka atelier. Active for nearly 40 years, Ando has won countless awards and his buildings can be found around the world. The interview provides some valuable insight into his inspirations, philosophy, and process. Find an excerpt from the interview below and read more at PORT.
Why is architecture important?
Tadao Ando: The real importance of architecture is its ability to move people’s hearts deeply. I am always trying to establish spaces where people can gather and interact with one another.
Your buildings are often distinguished by their pure geometric forms and use of exposed concrete. How are you able to achieve such a human quality in your architecture using very basic shapes and materials?
My intention is to create a specific space that does not exist autonomously of its site, using common materials that we can find anywhere in the world, like concrete, which consists of sand, stone and cement. I believe that the emotional power in architecture comes from how we introduce natural elements into the architectural space. Therefore, rather than making elaborate forms, I choose simple geometries to draw delicate yet dramatic plays of light and shadow in space.
Is there a project that you feel encapsulates the key principles you’ve tried to explore throughout your career?
Yes, I would say the Church of the Light in Ibaraki, which was built in 1989. It consists of a simple exposed concrete box with a rectangular shape, measuring six metres wide and 18 metres long. Since the project budget was limited, the finishing of the structure was restricted, resulting in a pure and naked exposed concrete space that is characterised by the light coming through the cruciform slit opening on the front wall. The natural light makes the entire space sacred, and the light varies depending on the time and seasons.