Tadao Ando

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Tadao Ando
Tadao Ando in 2004
Born (1941-09-13) 13 September 1941 (age 82)
PracticeTadao Ando Architects & Associates
ProjectsRokko Housing I, II, III, Kobe, 1983–1999

Tadao Ando (安藤 忠雄, Andō Tadao, born 13 September 1941) is a Japanese autodidact architect[1][2] whose approach to architecture and landscape was categorized by architectural historian Francesco Dal Co as "critical regionalism". He is the winner of the 1995 Pritzker Prize.

Early life[edit]

Ando was born a few minutes before his twin brother in 1941 in Minato-ku, Osaka, Japan.[3] At the age of two, his family chose to separate them and have Tadao live with his great-grandmother.[3] He worked as a boxer and fighter before settling on the profession of architect, despite never having formal training in the field. Struck by the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Imperial Hotel on a trip to Tokyo as a second-year high school student, he eventually decided to end his boxing career less than two years after graduating from high school to pursue architecture.[4] He attended night classes to learn drawing and took correspondence courses on interior design.[5] He visited buildings designed by renowned architects like Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Kahn before returning to Osaka in 1968 to establish his own design studio, Tadao Ando Architects and Associates.[6]



Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, showing the restaurant
Galleria Akka, Osaka, 1988

Ando was raised in Japan where the religion and style of life strongly influenced his architecture and design. 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 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. As an architect, he believes that architecture can change society, that "to change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society".[7] "Reform society" could be a promotion of a place or a change of the identity of that place. Werner Blaser has said, "Good buildings by Tadao Ando create memorable identity and therefore publicity, which in turn attracts the public and promotes market penetration".[8]

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.[9] Due to the simplicity of the exterior, construction, and organization of the space are relatively potential in order to represent the aesthetic of sensation.

Besides Japanese religious architecture, Ando has also designed Christian churches, such as the Church of the Light (1989) and the Church in Tarumi (1993).[10] Although Japanese and Christian churches display distinct characteristics, Ando treats them in a similar way. He believes there should be no difference in designing religious architecture and houses. As he explains,

We do not need to differentiate one from the other. Dwelling in a house is not only a functional issue, but also a spiritual one. The house is the locus of heart (kokoro), and the heart is the locus of god. Dwelling in a house is a search for the heart (kokoro) as the locus of god, just as one goes to church to search for god. An important role of the church is to enhance this sense of the spiritual. In a spiritual place, people find peace in their heart (kokoro), as in their homeland.[11]

Besides speaking of the spirit of architecture, Ando also emphasises the association between nature and architecture.[12][13] He intends for people to easily experience the spirit and beauty of nature through architecture. He believes architecture is responsible for performing the attitude of the site and makes it visible. This not only represents his theory of the role of architecture in society but also shows why he spends so much time studying architecture from physical experience.

In 1995, Ando won the Pritzker Prize for architecture, considered the highest distinction in the field.[2] He donated the $100,000 prize money to the orphans of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.[14]

Buildings and works[edit]

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe

Tadao Ando's body of work is known for the creative use of natural light and for structures that follow natural forms of the landscape, rather than disturbing the landscape by making it conform to the constructed space of a building. Ando's buildings are often characterized by complex three-dimensional circulation paths. These paths weave in between interior and exterior spaces formed both inside large-scale geometric shapes and in the spaces between them.

His "Row House in Sumiyoshi" (Azuma House, 住吉の長屋), a small two-story, cast-in-place concrete house completed in 1976, is an early work which began to show elements of his characteristic style. It consists of three equal rectangular volumes: two enclosed volumes of interior spaces separated by an open courtyard. The courtyard's position between the two interior volumes becomes an integral part of the house's circulation system. The house is famous for the contrast between appearance and spatial organization which allow people to experience the richness of the space within the geometry.[15]

Ando's housing complex at Rokko, just outside Kobe, is a complex warren of terraces and balconies, atriums and shafts. The designs for Rokko Housing One (1983) and for Rokko Housing Two (1993) illustrate a range of issues in traditional architectural vocabulary—the interplay of solid and void, the alternatives of open and closed, the contrasts of light and darkness. More significantly, Ando's noteworthy engineering achievement in these clustered buildings is site specific—the structures survived undamaged after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.[16] New York Times architectural critic Paul Goldberger argues that:

Ando is right in the Japanese tradition: spareness has always been a part of Japanese architecture, at least since the 16th century; [and] it is not without reason that Frank Lloyd Wright more freely admitted to the influences of Japanese architecture than of anything American."[16]

Like Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo Second Imperial Hotel 1923-1968, which did survive the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, site specific decision-making, anticipates seismic activity in several of Ando's Hyōgo-Awaji buildings.[17]

In 2003, Ando was commissioned by soap opera heir William Bell, Jr. and his wife Maria to design a house for an almost 6-acre (2.4 ha) oceanfront site on the East Pacific Coast Highway in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu, California.[18][19][20] The house (designed with WHY Architects)[21] is a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) modernist concrete structure in an L shape, with six bedrooms and walls of glass.[19][22] It has been described as minimalist and "echoey".[23] Construction completed in 2014, being prolonged due to the oceanfront location, soft soil, and California's extensive building codes.[19][24] 7,645 cubic yards of unusually high quality concrete were used in the construction of the house, with its rebar specially treated to resist corrosion.[22][19] The installation of the concrete in the driveway, garage, and parking areas in 2015 won an award for precision from the American Concrete Institute.[25] Ando also designed a series of furniture pieces for the interior.[19] In May 2023, couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z purchased the house through a trust for $200 million.[26][27][28][29] It was the most expensive single-family home sold in the United States in 2023.[30] and surpassed California's previous record price for a residence, set by businessman Marc Andreessen in 2021 for the adjacent house.[22]


The Church of the Light in Ibaraki, Osaka
Building/project Location Country Date
Tomishima House Osaka Japan 1973
Uchida House Japan 1974
Uno House Kyoto Japan 1974
Hiraoka House Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1974
Shibata House Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture Japan 1974
Tatsumi House Osaka Japan 1975
Soseikan-Yamaguchi House Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1975
Takahashi House Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1975
Matsumura House Kobe Japan 1975
Row House in Sumiyoshi (Azuma House) Sumiyoshi, Osaka Japan 1976
Hirabayashi House Osaka Prefecture Japan 1976
Bansho House Aichi Prefecture Japan 1976
Tezukayama Tower Plaza Sumiyoshi, Osaka Japan 1976
Tezukayama House-Manabe House Osaka Japan 1977
Wall House (Matsumoto House) Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1977
Glass Block House (Ishihara House) Osaka Japan 1978
Okusu House Setagaya, Tokyo Japan 1978
Glass Block Wall (Horiuchi House) Sumiyoshi, Osaka Japan 1979
Katayama Building Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1979
Onishi House Sumiyoshi, Osaka Japan 1979
Matsutani House Kyoto Japan 1979
Ueda House Okayama Prefecture Japan 1979
Step Takamatsu, Kagawa Japan 1980
Matsumoto House Wakayama, Wakayama Prefecture Japan 1980
Fuku House Wakayama, Wakayama Prefecture Japan 1980
Bansho House Addition Aichi Prefecture Japan 1981
Koshino House Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1981
Kojima Housing (Sato House) Okayama Prefecture Japan 1981
Atelier in Oyodo Osaka Japan 1981
Tea House for Soseikan-Yamaguchi House Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1982
Ishii House Shizuoka Prefecture Japan 1982
Akabane House Setagaya, Tokyo Japan 1982
Kujo Townhouse (Izutsu House) Osaka Japan 1982
Rokko Housing One (34°43′32″N 135°13′39″E / 34.725613°N 135.227564°E / 34.725613; 135.227564) Rokko, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1983
Bigi Atelier Shibuya, Tokyo Japan 1983
Umemiya House Kobe Japan 1983
Kaneko House Shibuya, Tokyo Japan 1983
Festival Naha, Okinawa prefecture Japan 1984
Time's Kyoto Japan 1984
Koshino House Addition Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1984
Melrose, Meguro Tokyo Japan 1984
Uejo House Osaka Prefecture Japan 1984
Ota House Okayama Prefecture Japan 1984
Moteki House Kobe Japan 1984
Shinsaibashi Tokyu Building Osaka Prefecture Japan 1984[31]
Iwasa House Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1984
Hata House (34°46′05″N 135°19′26″E / 34.76805°N 135.32397°E / 34.76805; 135.32397) Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1984
Atelier Yoshie Inaba Shibuya, Tokyo Japan 1985
Jun Port Island Building Kobe Japan 1985
Mon-petit-chou Kyoto Japan 1985
Guest House for Hattori House Osaka Japan 1985
Taiyō Cement Headquarters Building Osaka Japan 1986
TS Building Osaka Japan 1986
Chapel on Mount Rokko Kobe Japan 1986
Old/New Rokkov Kobe Japan 1986
Kidosaki House Setagaya, Tokyo Japan 1986
Fukuhara Clinic Setagaya, Tokyo Japan 1986
Sasaki House Minato, Tokyo Japan 1986
Main Pavilion for Tennoji Fair Osaka Japan 1987
Karaza Theater Tokyo Japan 1987
Ueda House Addition Okayama Prefecture Japan 1987
Church on the Water Tomamu, Hokkaido Japan 1988
Galleria Akka Osaka Japan 1988
Children's Museum Himeji, Hyōgo Japan 1989
Church of the Light (34°49′08″N 135°22′19″E / 34.818763°N 135.37201°E / 34.818763; 135.37201) Ibaraki Osaka Prefecture Japan 1989[32][33]
Collezione Minato, Tokyo Japan 1989
Morozoff P&P Studio Kobe Japan 1989
Raika Headquarters Osaka Japan 1989
Natsukawa Memorial Hall Hikone, Shiga Japan 1989
Yao Clinic, Neyagawa Osaka Prefecture Japan 1989
Matsutani House Addition Kyoto Japan 1990
Ito House, Setagaya Tokyo Japan 1990
Iwasa House Addition Ashiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1990
Garden of Fine Arts Osaka Japan 1990
S Building Osaka Japan 1990
Water Temple (34°32′47″N 134°59′17″E / 34.546406°N 134.98813°E / 34.546406; 134.98813) Awaji Island, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1991[34]
Atelier in Oyodo II Osaka Japan 1991
Time's II Kyoto Japan 1991
Museum of Literature Himeji, Hyōgo Japan 1991
Sayoh Housing Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1991
Minolta Seminar House Kobe Japan 1991
Benesse House Naoshima, Kagawa Japan 1992[35]
Japanese Pavilion for Expo 92 Seville Spain 1992
Otemae Art Center Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1992
Forest of Tombs Museum Kumamoto Prefecture Japan 1992
Rokko Housing Two Rokko, Kobe Japan 1993
Vitra Seminar House Weil am Rhein Germany 1993
Gallery Noda Kobe Japan 1993
YKK Seminar House Chiba Prefecture Japan 1993
Suntory Museum Osaka Japan 1994
Maxray Headquarters Building Osaka Japan 1994
Chikatsu Asuka Museum Osaka Prefecture Japan 1994
Kiyo Bank, Sakai Building Sakai, Osaka Japan 1994
Garden of Fine Art Kyoto Japan 1994
Museum of wood culture Kami, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1994
Inamori Auditorium Kagoshima Japan 1994
Nariwa Museum Okayama Prefecture Japan 1994
Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum Naoshima, Kagawa Japan 1995[36]
Atelier in Oyodo Annex Osaka Japan 1995
Nagaragawa Convention Center Gifu Japan 1995
Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum Annex Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture Japan 1995
Meditation Space, UNESCO Paris France 1995[37]
Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art Kyoto Prefecture Japan 1995[38]
Shanghai Pusan Ferry Terminal Osaka Japan 1996
Museum of Literature II, Himeji Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1996
Gallery Chiisaime (Sawada House) Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1996
Museum of Gojo Culture & Annex Gojo, Nara Prefecture Japan 1997
Toto Seminar House Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1997
Yokogurayama Natural Forest Museum Kōchi Prefecture Japan 1997
Harima Kogen Higashi Primary School & Junior High School Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1997
Koumi Kogen Museum Nagano Prefecture Japan 1997
Eychaner/Lee House Chicago, Illinois United States 1997
Daikoku Denki Headquarters Building Aichi Prefecture Japan 1998
Daylight Museum Shiga Prefecture Japan 1998
Junichi Watanabe Memorial Hall Sapporo Japan 1998
Asahi Shimbun Okayama Bureau Okayama Japan 1998
Siddhartha Children and Women Hospital Butwal Nepal 1998
Church of the Light Sunday School Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture Japan 1999
Rokko Housing III' Kobe Japan 1999
Shell Museum, Nishinomiya Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 1999
Fabrica (Benetton Communication Research Center) Villorba Italy 2000
Awaji-Yumebutai (34°33′40″N 135°00′29″E / 34.560983°N 135.008144°E / 34.560983; 135.008144[39]) Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 2000
Rockfield Shizuoka Factory Shizuoka Japan 2000
Pulitzer Arts Foundation St. Louis, Missouri United States 2001
Komyo-ji (shrine) Saijō, Ehime Japan 2001
Ryotaro Shiba Memorial Museum Higashiosaka, Osaka prefecture Japan 2001
Osaka Prefectural Sayamaike Museum Ōsakasayama,Osaka Japan 2001
Teatro Armani-Armani World Headquarters Milan Italy 2001
Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture Japan 2002[40]
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Fort Worth, Texas United States 2002[41]
Piccadilly Gardens Manchester United Kingdom 2002; part-demolished 2020.[42]
4x4 house Kobe Japan 2003
Invisible House Ponzano Veneto Italy 2004
Chichu Art Museum Naoshima, Kagawa Japan 2004[43]
Langen Foundation Neuss Germany 2004[44]
Gunma Insect World Insect Observation Hall Kiryū, Gunma Japan 2005
Picture Book Museum Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture Japan 2005[45]
Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum Matsuyama, Ehime Japan 2006
Morimoto (restaurant) Chelsea Market, Manhattan United States 2005
Sakura Garden Osaka Japan 2006
Omotesando Hills, Jingumae 4-Chome Tokyo Japan 2006
House in Shiga Ōtsu, Shiga Japan 2006
21 21 Design Sight Minato, Tokyo Japan 2007
Stone Hill Center expansion for the Clark Art Institute Williamstown, Massachusetts United States 2008[46]
Glass House Seopjikoji South Korea 2008[47]
Genius Loci Seopjikoji South Korea 2008[47]
Punta della Dogana (restoration) Venice Italy 2009[48]
House, stable, and mausoleum for fashion designer and film director Tom Ford's Cerro Pelon Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico United States 2009
Rebuilding the Kobe Kaisei Hospital Nada Ward, Kobe Japan 2009
Gate of Creation, Universidad de Monterrey Monterrey Mexico 2009
NIWAKA Building Kyoto Japan 2009[49]
Capella Niseko Resort and Residences Niseko, Abuta District, Shiribeshi, Hokkaido Prefecture Japan 2010
Interior design of Miklós Ybl Villa Budapest Hungary 2010
Kaminoge Station, Tokyu Corporation Tokyo Japan 2011
Centro Roberto Garza Sada of Art Architecture and Design Monterrey Mexico 2012
Akita Museum of Art Akita, Akita Japan 2012
Bonte Museum Seogwipo South Korea 2012[47]
Asia Museum of Modern Art Wufeng, Taichung Taiwan 2013
Hansol Museum[50] (Museum SAN) Wonju South Korea 2013
Aurora Museum Shanghai China 2013
Richard Sachs Residence Malibu United States 2013[51][52]
Visitor, Exhibition and Conference Center, Clark Art Institute Williamstown, Massachusetts United States 2014
Casa Wabi Puerto Escondido, Oax Mexico 2014[53]
William J. (Bill) and Maria Bell Residence (with WHY Architects) Malibu United States 2014[21][22]
JCC (Jaeneung Culture Center) Seoul South Korea 2015[54]
Hill of the Buddha Sapporo Japan 2015
Setouchi Aonagi Matsuyama, Ehime Japan 2015
Pearl Art Museum Shanghai China 2017
152 Elizabeth Street Condominiums New York, New York United States 2018
Wrightwood 659 Chicago United States 2018[55]
Nakanoshima Children's Book Forest Osaka Japan 2020[56]
LG Arts Center SEOUL Seoul South Korea 2022[57]
Realm of the Light New Taipei City Taiwan 2023
MPavilion Melbourne, Australia Australia 2023


Kaminoge Station in Tokyo
The interior of the Omotesando Hills shopping complex in Tokyo
Award Organization/location Country Date
Annual Prize (Row House, Sumiyoshi) Architectural Institute of Japan Japan 1979
Cultural Design Prize (Rokko Housing One and Two) Tokyo Japan 1983
Alvar Aalto Medal Finnish Association of Architects Finland 1985
Gold Medal of Architecture French Academy of Architecture France 1989
Carlsberg Architectural Prize (International) New Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen Denmark 1992
Japan Art Academy Prize Japan Art Academy Japan 1993
Asahi Prize Tokyo Japan 1994
Pritzker Architecture Prize (International) Chicago United States 1995
Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres Paris France 1995
Praemium Imperiale First “FRATE SOLE” Award in Architecture Japan Art Association Japan 1996
Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres Paris France 1997
Royal Gold Medal RIBA Great Britain 1997
AIA Gold Medal American Institute of Architects United States 2002
Kyoto Prize Inamori Foundation Japan 2002
Person of Cultural Merit Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Japan 2003
UIA Gold Medal International Union of Architects France 2005
Order of Culture The Emperor Japan 2010
Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design United States 2012[58]
Grand Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy[59] Rome Italy 2013
Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres[60] Paris France 2013
Commandeur de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur[61] Paris France 2021


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  • Francesco Dal Co. Tadao Ando: Complete Works. Phaidon Press, 1997. ISBN 0-7148-3717-2
  • Kenneth Frampton. Tadao Ando: Buildings, Projects, Writings. Rizzoli International Publications, 1984. ISBN 0-8478-0547-6
  • Randall J. Van Vynckt. International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture. St. James Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55862-087-7
  • Masao Furuyama. “Tadao Ando”. Taschen, 2006. ISBN 978-3-8228-4895-1
  • Werner Blaser, “Tadao Ando, Architecktur der Stille, Architecture of silence” Birkhäuser, 2001. ISBN 3-7643-6448-3
  • Jin Baek, “Nothingness: Tadao Ando’s Christian Sacred Space”. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 978-0-415-47854-0

External links[edit]