- ISSUE 2
- FANNY BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- ISSUE 3
- DIORA’S KEY STARRING DIORA BAIRD BY STEPHANIE VOVAS
- TOY STORY REDUX BY TONY KELLY
- ESTELLA WARREN
- SHE LOOKED THRU ME
- EMILY RATAJKOWSKI BY STEVE SHAW
- RITUAL BY SIGNE VILSTRUP
- HARRI PECCINOTTI
- AU LAIT BY BENEDICT REDGROVE
- IOAN GRUFFUDD
- 16 PELL STREET BY STEPHAN WÜRTH
- LE PREMIÈRE FEMME MODERNE
- JENNIFER WEST
- ISSUE 1
- BROOKE BONELLI BY STEVE SHAW
- TERRY O’NEILL
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS THE CASTING FOR TREATS ISSUE #1
- STEVE SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS JASON STATHAM, SPRING 2011
- ELSA HOSK BY ANDREAS KOCK
- RACHEL ROBERTS BY DEBORAH ANDERSON
- SAS BY TONY KELLY
- LAUREN, NIKKI, AMANDA, ABBY & FRANKI
- SHEPARD FAIREY
- KHOSI BY WARWICK SAINT
- DOWN IN THE FOREST SOMETHING STIRS
- THE GARDEN OF SIN & SEDUCTION
- ISSUE 4
- ALBERT MAYSLES
- SESSILEE LOPEZ BY MARK SELIGER
- FALLING BY GABRIELLE REVERE & JO BAKER
- MODERN ARTISANS BY TONY DURAN
- ANTHEA BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- ASTRAL TRAVELING BY PETROVSKY & RAMONE
- GOLD RUSH BY TONY DURAN
- NICO TORTORELLA
- KING LOUIS REIGNS
- ALANA MARIE
- AMANDA MARIE PIZZICONI BY BRETT RATNER
- WATER GIRLS
- TADAO ANDO: THE SIMPLICITY OF PERFECTION
- DUANE MICHALS
- STORK CLUB: THE MOST FAMOUS NIGHTCLUB ON EARTH
- ISSUE 5
- LE PRINCE DE PARFUM
- JOHN VAN HAMERSVELD
- EVA & KELSEY BY LUIS SANCHIS
- CISCO BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- BOB CARLOS CLARKE: THE LAST OF THE MAVERICKS
- TRIPTYCHS BY SAMUEL BAYER
- ZUZANA BY ANNE-CONSTANCE FRÉNOY
- VANESSA BY KESLER TRAN
- THE MAN WHO (ALMOST) FOOLED EVERYONE
- TABITHA BY STEVE SHAW
- JAMES GEORGOPOULOS BY MAXWELL WILLIAMS
- HOLLIE BY MARIANNA ROTHEN
- EUGENA BY JOSH RYAN
- BLACK TONGUE BY SAMUEL BAYER
- TEHILA BY JAMES MACARI
- TREATS! PARTY PICS
- BRETT RATNER SHOOTS AMANDA PIZZICONI
- BLACK TONGUE
- FALLING BY JO BAKER & GABRIELLE REVERE
- JO BAKER – WICKED LINER AND LASHES
- SIGNE VILSTRUP – RITUAL (VIDEO)
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 2 PREVIEW
- “ASTRAL TRAVELING” BY PETROVSKY & RAMONE FOR TREATS! ISSUE 4
- SHORT FILMS
- THE SUMMER HOUSE BY JOE WEHNER
- TREATS! ISSUE #3 LAUNCH PARTY
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 3 PREVIEW
- MARK SELIGER SHOOTS SESSILEE LOPEZ EXCLUSIVELY FOR TREATS!
- “WATER GIRLS” BY HERRING & HERRING
- DIORA BAIRD BY STEPHANIE VOVAS (VIDEO)
- TRICK OR TREATS! ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY
- FRANK W OCKENFELS 3 SHOOTS MAY LINDSTROM FOR ISSUE #3
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI (VIDEO #2)
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI (VIDEO)
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS IOAN GRUFFUDD
- STEVEN LYON SHOOTS “FILLES DE NUIT” FOR TREATS ISSUE #2
- BROOKE BONELLI GETS A TREAT! OF A TAN!
- TONY DURAN, BEHIND THE SCENE PART 3
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE AND MAY – BEHIND THE SCENES
- DEWY SKIN BY JO BAKER
- FILLES DE NUIT BY STEVEN LYON
- TREATS! PREMIERE ISSUE OSCAR PARTY
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS ABBY BROTHERS
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS JASON STATHAM
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE & MAY
- RED LIPS BY JO BAKER
- SHIMMERY SEXY EYES
- METALLIC CAT EYE BY JO BAKER
- JO BAKER MODERN ROMANTIC
- TREATS! PHOTOGRAPHERS
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS THE CASTING: BEHIND THE SCENES PT. 2
- BEN WATTS SHOOTS BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! ISSUE 2 – PT. 1
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 1 PREVIEW
- ELECTRIC BY HERRING & HERRING
- AUDREY AT THE GOLDSTEIN RESIDENCE
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI IN “LIKE IT HOT” FOR ISSUE #2
- TREATS! EVENTS
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS AMY HIXSON
- BEN WATTS – BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! ISSUE 2 VIDEO PT. 3
- BEN WATTS: THE INTERVIEW, PT. 1
- BEN WATTS SHOOTS BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! – PT. 2
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE BONELLI
- TONY DURAN, BEHIND THE SCENES PART 1
- BEN WATTS FOR TREATS! PREMIERE ISSUE: BEHIND THE SCENES
- BEN WATTS – THE INTERVIEW PART 2
- MODEL SCREEN TESTS
- WEB EXCLUSIVES
- RALPH GIBSON’S NUDE: REDUX
- TASYA VAN REE: THE FEMALE GAZE
- ERIC STANTON: IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD
- TREATS Q&A: STEVE SCHAPIRO
- MALIBU’S LOST SHANGRI-LA
- WHERE MODERNISM FOUND ITS HOME
- CONRAD ROSET: THE MUSE IS THE MEDIUM
- DAVID PAUL LARSON: RAW APPROACH
- POST NO BILLS & FAILE
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: SPF SHOWDOWN
- CHIC ROUGH SHINY WEARABLE THINGS
- FIFTY SHADES OF DE SADE
- THERE WILL BE HISTORY
- PROPRIETRESS OF PLEASURE, AKA OWNER!
- THE ZIGGY FILES
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: OLYMPIAN METALLICS
- CARMEL VALLEY INN
- A ROUGE AWAKENING: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIPS
- CAMPGROUND CHIC MEETS LUXURY LODGINGS
- MODEL TALK – DIORA BAIRD
- ACHTUNG, BERLIN!
- SKIN RE’TREAT!
- ARMANI’S CREMA THE CROP
- MR MAXWELL WILL SEE YOU NOW
- PEACHY KEEN: SLIDE INTO SPRING WITH CHANEL’S HARMONIE DE PRINTEMPS LINE
- BELA BORSODI: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHER
- TREATS! Q & A: DAVID BELLEMERE
- MODEL TALK: MAY LINDSTROM
- HELMUT 3.0
- A BALANCING ACT LIKE NO OTHER
- THE CHARMING BENEDICT REDGROVE
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: MON SHU
- YEAR OF THE BUNNY
- ADVENTURES IN RIO: BRAZIL & BUST
- SEX LIT 101: CLASSIC EROTICA
- TREATS Q&A: JARRED LAND
- LA PERLA: COSA C’È SOTTO!
- NICK VEASEY: X MAN
- TOM O’NEAL: MOMENTS IN TIME
- TREATS! Q&A: EDOUARD MEYLAN OF CELSIUS X VI II
- TREATS Q & A: D.A. PENNEBAKER
- 2 1/2 HOURS
- LUXURIANT DESERT JEWELS
- BUTTERFLY DREAMS IN CHINA
- WHO IS DOUG BARTLETT?
- ALLAN TEGER: PEAKS & VALLEYS
- MAKE IT NEW: THE STORY OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE
- GUSTAV KLIMT: THE SHAPE OF A WOMAN
- THE MOST INTERESTING TOWN IN THE WORLD
- JIMMY STEINFELDT: IN THROUGH THE LENS
- FOREVER YOUNG
- TREATS Q & A: JOHN URBANO
THE SIMPLICITY OF PERFECTION
Dubbed the “world’s greatest living architect,” Japan’s Tadao Ando is the only architect to have won the discipline’s four most prestigious prizes: the Pritzker, Carlsberg, Praemium Imperiale, and Kyoto. Combining influences from Japanese tradition with the best of modernism, Ando has developed a completely unique building aesthetic that makes use of concrete, wood, water, light, space & nature in a way that has never been witnessed before in architecture. In an excerpt from the Taschen book, Ando: Complete Works 1975-2012, we get a peek into the Andoian world of homes, churches, museums, apartment complexes & cultural spaces.
by Philip Jodidio
As the 21st century takes form, it is clear that there is no sense of direction or any prevalent style in architecture. Where uncertainty reigns, the desire for clear answers is all the more pressing. How can architecture respond to the need to find a spirit of this time, a way of building that neither denies the past nor glorifies it beyond reason? When urban populations rise dramatically, and the quality of life declines, the role of certain creative architects becomes central in defining the future of the built environment. Tadao Ando is one of those creators, an architect who has sought and found the keys to adapting modern architecture to the needs of this time. Although he makes abstract reference to Japanese tradition, he is just as much influenced by the powerful simplicity of the best of Modernism. These qualities have made him internationally famous, one of the most popular architects for a generation of students around the world. And yet to understand the depth and importance of Ando’s contribution, it is essential to actually see his buildings, in particular those built in Japan.
The first impression created by Ando’s architecture is that of its materiality. His powerful concrete walls set a limit. Beyond this point there is no passage but that which is opened by his will. A second impression of Ando’s architecture is its tactility. Hard walls seem soft to the touch. They exclude then enclose, admitting light, wind, and the passing visitor, who leaves behind the disorder of everyday existence to be sheltered in a realm of stillness. A third impression of Ando’s architecture is its emptiness. Within, only light and space surround the visitor.
Ensō, the mysterious circles drawn by Zen Buddhist monks in a single stroke, symbolize emptiness, oneness, and the moment of enlightenment. The circle and other rigorous geometric forms are the vocabulary of Ando, related as much to Western architecture as to any Eastern thought. He cites the Pantheon in Rome as an influence on his work; proof that simple shapes fashioned with a mastery of light and materials can create a transcendent space. He speaks also of the “prisons” in Piranesi’s [architectural etchings] Carceri d’invenzion (Imaginary Prisons), whose “dynamic verticality” contrasts with the horizontal emphasis of much traditional Japanese architecture, which is “non-geometric and irregular” by nature. Ando has said that a goal of his work is to bring together these apparently divergent ideas of space in a “unified transcendent architecture.” What Ando seeks, and what he finds in his best work, is the simplicity of perfection, a faultless circle drawn by a steady hand in a single stroke.
PRIVATE HOUSES, PRIVATE WORLDS
Born in Osaka in 1941, Tadao Ando is unusual in that he was self-educated as an architect, largely through travels in the United States, Europe, and Africa from 1962 to 1969. He founded Tadao Ando Architect & Associates in Osaka in 1969. When asked how he came to be interested in architecture, he replied, “As it happens work was carried on where I lived when I was 15, and I got to know some of the carpenters. About the same time, in a used bookstore, I saw a book on the complete work of Le Corbusier. I recopied some of his drawings, and I would say that that is how I began to be interested in architecture.”
Although the influence on Ando of Le Corbusier and others such as Louis Kahn is often cited, it is interesting to note that the first project that brought him public attention, the so-called Azuma House, is already very much a personal creation. On a small site ( 57.3 m2 ) inserted into a row of narrow houses, the simple concrete faНade and equally unadorned doorway stand out without breaking the rhythm of the street. Old wood houses that formerly lined the street have given way to a hodgepodge of generally undistinguished modern residences. Although this residential area of Osaka is somewhat less chaotic in appearance than many other parts of a metropolis with a population density of 11,793 persons per square kilometer ( 1995 ), there is a marked contrast between this concrete slab and its environment. Stepping through the door, the visitor need no longer be conscious of the outside world. The house is divided into three equal sections—a living room and kitchen below, and two bedrooms above, separated by an external courtyard, and the stairway up to the second floor. Access to the bathroom on the ground floor from the bedrooms requires the resident to pass through the courtyard. This fact surprises Western visitors but seems to be of little concern to the Japanese, who, as Ando says, “Are used to living with the rhythms of nature.” As for its limited dimensions, with total floor space of 64.7 m2, the Sumiyoshi Row House exceeds the average size of an Osaka dwelling (estimated at 61 m2 in 1993 ). Despite its rigorously geometric design, this house, with its unusual façade and open central courtyard, is closely related both to local architecture and to Japanese traditions. By excluding the chaotic environment and admitting nature, Ando also developed what would become one of the central themes of his work in this house, which won a prize from the Japanese Architectural Association.
HOMES FOR THE SPIRIT
When asked if he is religious, Ando replies, “I feel that the goal of most religions is similar, to make men happier and more at ease with themselves. I see no contradiction in my designing Christian churches.” Indeed, Ando has built a number of Christian chapels and other houses of worship and contemplation. In his architecture in general, there is a processional quality that is related to the design of Japanese temples. “I do not make direct visual reference to temples in my work,” says Ando, “but it is true that I have visited a very large number of such buildings, and unconsciously the idea of an indirect access recurs frequently in my work. Traditional Japanese architecture is almost never symmetrical and this too undoubtedly enters into my subconscious.” It is in his places of contemplation that these facts appear most clearly, highlighting the qualities that place Tadao Ando in a category apart, making him one of the great architects of our time.
One of Ando’s most remarkable buildings is also one of his simplest. The Church of the Light (Ibaraki, Osaka, 1988–89 ) is located in a residential suburb 40 kilometers to the northeast of the center of Osaka. It consists of a rectangular concrete box crossed at a 15-degree angle by a freestanding wall. The bisecting wall obliges the visitor to turn to enter the chapel. As ever with Ando, entering a building requires an act of will and an awareness of the architecture. Within, the rough-textured floors and pews are made from dark-stained scaffolding planks emphasizing the starkness of the design. In an unusual configuration, the floor descends in stages toward the altar, which is next to the rear wall, whose horizontal and vertical openings form a cross, flooding the space with light. Built for the Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church, a member of the United Church of Christ in Japan, at the behest of the Reverend Noboru Karukome, the church has a total floor area of only 113 m2, but an undeniable strength. For the Reverend Karukome, this place brings to mind the words of Christ: “Where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” The church discovered in the course of construction that it could not afford a roof. Ando told the building company that he would consider the church to be finished as it was, open to the sky, leading the company to donate the needed covering. So, too, he proposed that there be no glass in the cruciform opening, allowing wind to blow through the chapel just as light entered. Rejected because of winter cold, this idea too is symbolic of Ando’s consistent emphasis on closing out the urban environment, while admitting manifestations of nature. It should be noted that the opening in the wall of the Church of the Light assumes a shape that is not quite that of the traditional Christian cross. The horizontal bar is lower than it might be, just above center. This subtle difference is important. To each his own giver of light. The goal of religions is similar, as the architect says, and his is spirituality, expressed in built form, which goes beyond specific identification.
ART , LITERATURE, AND MORE
The Children’s Museum (design: 03/1987– 03/1988; construction: 03/1988–07/1989 ) is located on a large wooded hillside site ( 87222 m2 ) overlooking a lake near the city of Himeji. In this mature work of Ando, the visitor is invited to discover the architecture in relation to its natural setting. The main unit of the museum contains a library, indoor and outdoor theaters, an exhibition gallery, a multipurpose hall, and a restaurant. The outdoor theater is located on the rooftop, with a spectacular view of the lake. A stepped waterfall and pool near the building also serve to make a connection between the museum and the scenery of the lake. A path, marked by a long concrete wall, leads the visitor away from the main structure toward a workshop complex consisting of a two-story square building. Along this path, Ando has placed a surprising group of 16 concrete columns in a square grid. In their wooded setting, these nine-meter-high pillars are a reminder that the first columns in architectural history were inspired by trees. Somewhere between architecture and sculpture, since it is dictated by no specific function, this intervention marks his intention to go beyond the traditional concept of his art to reaffirm a link between nature and the built form.
Although called a Children’s Museum, the facility in Himeji carries relatively few if any built references to childhood. Rather, Ando creates a group of buildings in a relatively complex arrangement, which could certainly serve other purposes. When asked if his style has not shifted toward a more complicated use of interpenetrating spaces, the architect replies, “Most of my early buildings were destined to be housing. I used simple forms because the function of the architecture was simple. Now, the programs required of my buildings, for example museums, are more complex. What you perceive as an evolution in my style has more to do with programmatic requirements, in my opinion.” Despite an inherent modesty, there seems little doubt that Ando is creating his works with an eye to posterity. The potential flexibility of the Himeji Children’s Museum and its lack of anecdotal references to childhood most probably improve the chances that it will survive longer.Although its site is not as generous as that of the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Literature now forms a complex of three buildings. Aside from Ando’s first structure, there is also what remains of the residence of the locally powerful Hamamoto family on the site. Known as the Bokeitei, this traditional 80-year-old structure now contains the study of Watsuji. Ando created a pond between his building and this older house to relate the two. Slightly further down the hill the architect made an addition to the Museum (design: 09/1993–09/1994; construction: 10/1994–05/1996 ). With its axis parallel to the grid of the first building, this annex is made of a rectangular glass box bisected at a 30-degree angle by a concrete wall. Although Ando compares this device to that used in the Church of Light, there is a greater complexity in this design, which is immediately apparent to the visitor. A 13-meter-square cube is also part of the structure, set at a 45-degree angle to the glass box. In the heart of the annex, Ando has placed a library formed by a set of concentric wooden squares, with a central opening to the sky. With its magnificent internal corridors of solid concrete, this building, which seems so simple from the outside, conserves within what is apparently a frequent feature of Ando’s architecture: a processional design which willfully leads the visitor closer and closer to a place of concentrated meaning, in this case the heart of the library with its opening to the sky. The French designer Philippe Starck says that he admires Ando because he “is a mystic in a country that is no longer mystic.” This statement by a provocative foreigner may underestimate the interest of the contemporary Japanese in the arcane or the spiritual, but it does point to one quality of Ando’s work.
LAND OF WOOD
Although, of course, known for his masterful handling of concrete, Ando has experimented with wood in two interesting buildings which point toward a fundamental aspect of his work: his close attachment to the land and history of Japan. The first of these was in fact not built in Japan, but in Seville on the occasion of Expo ’92. The Japanese Pavilion ( 1990–1992 ) had the distinction of being the largest wooden building in the world, with a main façade 60 meters long, a depth of 40 meters, and a maximum height of 25 meters. Aside from being made essentially of wood, which has long been the preferred building material of Japan, the pavilion also included traditional forms such as the drum-shaped entrance bridge (taikobashi). At the summit of this bridge, visitors naturally arrived at the entrance, but also discovered a view of the Guadalquivir River from which Columbus sailed toward the New World. Enormous glue-laminated wooden columns providing a 17-meter interior ceiling height were assembled in Japan and shipped to the site. Just as it recalled Japanese temple architecture in a form distilled by Ando’s design process, so the pavilion incorporated such specifically modern features as a translucent Teflon roof. This unusual mixture of tradition and modernity, but also of Japanese and Western culture and histories, begins to reveal the breadth of Ando’s ambition.
A number of the ideas developed by Ando in Seville have found a more definitive form in one of his most inspiring works, the Museum of Wood (Mikata-gun, Hyogo, 1993–94 ). This museum was built to commemorate the 45th National Wood Festival in Hyogo Prefecture, which is traditionally held on Arbor Day, a ceremony founded by the former emperor in the 1950s following the wartime destruction of the forests. Located three hours by car from Osaka in the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture, near a ski resort, the remote, wooded site covers an area of 168,310 m2. Built of wood, with a steel frame and reinforced concrete, the museum features a ring-shaped exhibition hall with a 46-meter outer diameter and a 22-meter wide central void. The access bridge cuts directly through the structure, passing over a central fountain, and leading visitors 200 meters further on to an observation deck and guest house. Inside the museum, a sloping floor guides visitors down along a spiral path, which takes them twice into the central void. Locally milled Hyogo cedar was used for the posts and beams. The enormous laminated wood columns, rising to a height of 16 meters, are arranged in a manner that is reminiscent of the forest, and also recalls the Seville building. Although not related to the design of any particular temple, this structure does inspire a feeling of communion with nature. Because of its location, its theme, and its design, the Museum of Wood highlights the ties of Ando to the land and to the history of Japan, without any trace of the type of superficial historicism that was typical of postmodern architecture. More clearly stated, he is pointing the way to a kind of modern architecture which is conscious not only of the distant past, but also of more recent achievements such as those of Le Corbusier or Louis Kahn.
JAPAN PAST AND PRESENT
The presence of most of the buildings of Ando owes something to the very thickness of their concrete walls. In the case of the Church of the Light, the shell of the building is no less than 380 mm thick, whereas the Church on the Water in Hokkaido (design: 09/1985–04/1988; construction: 04/1988–09/1988 ) has a triple skin with a 250-mm-thick outer layer of concrete, 50 mm of insulation and a 600-mm-thick inner wall of concrete. As Philip Drew writes, “Ando conceived his buildings almost as Land Art, buried places that struggle to emerge from the earth, which by their struggle dramatize the encounter between architecture and nature.” Although this tendency to view buildings as a form of Land Art is even more strongly expressed in projects such as the Benesse House, Ando’s Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum (Minamikawachi, Osaka, 1991–1994 ) provides strong evidence of his attachment not only to the land, but also to the ancient history of Japan. Situated near the town of Kishi in the Prefecture of Osaka, this unusual structure is built amidst some of the best-known burial mounds (kofun) in Japan, including four imperial tombs.
The Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum is located in a lush green natural setting around a bend in the road leading from the small town of Kishi. Ando’s own description of the building gives a clear idea of its appearance. “To produce a museum integrated with the burial mounds, it was conceived as a stepped hill lifted tectonically from the natural terrain, from where the visitor could view the entire burial mound group. Nearby, plum trees, a pond, and paths among the surrounding hills envelop the museum in an environment conducive to outdoor activity and allow it to function as a regional hub. Its roof, which is really a large stepped plaza, will be used for drama and music festivals as well as lectures and other performances. Inside the building, the display areas are dark and the objects are exhibited as they were found in the tombs. Visitors experience the sensation of entering an actual tomb and feel drawn, in mood, back to ancient times.”
A main feature of the museum is the concrete tower whose windowless presence dominates the stepped structure. Once the visitor has entered the museum, he looks up into the void inside the tower, expecting to find a source of light. Instead, he stares into black space. When asked how he conceived the idea of this central tower, with its undeniably sculptural presence, especially when viewed from the outside, Ando says emphatically, “My first thought in the case of the tower of the Chikatsu-Asuka Museum was to create the interior feeling of a tomb. The exterior form evolved from that desire. I wanted the interior space of the museum to be even darker than it is, but for security reasons, it was necessary to maintain a certain level of light.”
In Ando’s affirmation that he wished to make the Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum’s interior even darker, there is a reminiscence of his comments on the Church of the Light, which he might well have built without the glass in the cruciform opening. There is in this gesture a rigor, or rather an intention, to push an idea to its limits, which is characteristic of the work of Ando. In this museum dedicated to the tomb culture of Japan, it was logical to relate the design to that of its historic environment, but again, Tadao Ando’s distillation of the concept led him to create a thoroughly modern building, which is also deeply rooted in the very earth of Japan. These connections are emphasized in the main structure, but also in the immediate environment, which has also been designed by the architect. A waterfall runs close to the entrance of the museum, which is reached by walking along a curved path, delineated by a concrete wall. The use of water, here as in many other projects such as those in Himeji, does have a particular significance for the architect. As he says, “For the Japanese, water is not only felt in terms of its physical presence but in spiritual terms. There is an expression for example that has it that we can forget the past by throwing it into the water. The use of water in my architecture is therefore an attempt to bring to bear a spiritual dimension which is directly related to Japanese thought and tradition.” The visitor can enter the museum, or choose to walk through its grounds, where there are various points of view on the structure itself and on the nearby burial sites. A concrete “folly” in the garden frames a perfect view of the museum itself, blending nature, history, and the earth itself to form a coherent, modern whole.
ISLANDS OF THE MIND
The Benesse House Museum and Hotel (Naoshima, Kagawa, 1990– 1992; oval: 1994–95 ) is located on an elevated cape at the southern end of the relatively unspoiled part of Naoshima Island, in the Inland Sea of Japan. This island can be reached by ferry from neighboring industrial ports such as Takamatsu and Uno. The complex itself can be entered either by road, or from an arrival pier and stepped plaza. In phase one, Ando designed a large exhibition space and a small hotel, with a total floor area of 3,643 m2. In this instance, Ando combined the use of stone rubble walls and concrete. Because it is part of a national park site, and because construction is severely regulated in Japan’s remaining wilderness areas, environmental considerations led to more than half of the volume being under ground. The main exhibition hall, sunken below grade, is two levels high, 50 meters long and eight meters wide, and is used to show contemporary art, with works by artists such as Frank Stella. From its restaurant terrace and other locations, the Benesse House offers spectacular views of the Inland Sea with its cone-shaped islands and remarkably heavy maritime traffic. Phase two, used mainly as hotel space, includes 598 m2 of floor area. Since regulations would have required this building to have a pitched roof, Ando placed the structure underground. It is a one-level building with an oval plan, and an oval courtyard and basin. By digging into the site, Tadao Ando has created something akin to an earthwork. As he says looking forward, “There is a plan to have me design one building a year all over this area. Every time you come, there will be something under construction. This will be kept up for ten, twenty years. This project is very much like contemporary art in its conception.” When asked if he really views his architecture as a form of Land Art, Ando replies, “That naturally depends on each project. It should be remembered that most of the great examples of traditional Japanese architecture were designed with reference to their gardens. Those monuments are in a sense a version of Land Art before the time of Land Art.” This indirect response does not fully explain Ando’s attitude, but it does once again point to his reverence for Japanese tradition, combined with a great interest in the masterpieces of modern architecture. When asked if there is a difference between a work of art and architecture, or if a building can be a work of art, he says, “I try to make my works as beautiful as possible. I should say, however, when I look at buildings like Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye or certain works of Louis Kahn, that I feel that those are indeed works of art.” Ando may not wish to compare architecture and art directly, but other comments that he has made, such as those in his acceptance speech for the 1995 Pritzker Prize, shed further light on this central question:
“Architecture is deemed complete only upon the intervention of the human that experiences it. In other words, architectural space becomes alive only in correspondence with the human presence that perceives it in our contemporary culture, where all of us are subjected to intense exterior stimulation, especially by the electronic environment, the role of architectural space as a spiritual shelter is crucial. Here again, what is of primary importance is the imagination and fictionality that architecture contains beyond the substantive. Without stepping into the ambiguous realm of the human spirit—happiness, affection, tranquility, tension—architecture cannot achieve its fictionality. This is truly architecture’s proper realm, but it is also one that is impossible to formulate. Only after speculating the worlds of both the actual and the fictional together can architecture come into existence as an expression, and rise into the realm of art.”
AND THE EARTH TREMBLED
Hompuku-ji is located on the island of Awaji. As fate would have it, at 5:46 a.m. local time on January 17, 1995, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale had as its center a point 14 kilometers below the surface of northern Awaji (N 34.36° E 135.03°). This cataclysmic event, which lasted a mere 20 seconds, left 6,400 dead, and 236,000 homeless, and more than 67,000 homes completely destroyed, principally in the nearby port city of Kobe. It is a measure of the depth of his own feeling about these events that Ando contributed the $100,000 awarded to him by the Hyatt Foundation for the Pritzker Prize to a foundation for orphans of the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. Thanks to their inherent solidity, and to their locations, neither Hompuku-ji nor Ando’s buildings in Kobe, such as the Rokko Housing, were damaged by these events. Although there were historical records of earthquakes in the region (an event of magnitude 7 or greater in 1596 and a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in 1916 at almost exactly the same epicenter), it had been widely assumed that Kobe was less at risk than Tokyo or other parts of Japan. If Ando’s buildings in or near Kobe survived, it is due to the fact that they are designed to withstand earthquakes. Japanese building codes now impose precautions on architects, but Ando’s thick walls are also the product of a land where the stability of the earth itself can be called into question.
THE NEXT PHASE
Perhaps because of the numerous awards he has received, and certainly because of the consistent attention of the international media, Ando has begun to build more and more outside of Japan. His first house, located in Illinois (House in Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1993–1997 ), and his first museum in the United States (Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Saint Louis, Missouri, 1997–2001 ) recently bolstered Ando’s international reputation. A particularly pared-down design, the Pulitzer Foundation was first imagined as the renovation of an old automobile factory in an abandoned area of Saint Louis as part of an urban revitalization program baptized “Grand Center” (phase one). Later, a new site was chosen by the client after a careful consideration of the qualities of Ando’s architecture. The completed structure consists of two rectangular boxes both 7.3 meters wide, but with slightly different lengths: 62.2 meters and 65.9 meters. The taller of the two volumes (there is a 3.05-meter differential) contains the double-height main gallery, and the almost austere concrete design is enlivened by a central reflecting pool. Tadao Ando himself calls the design “an uncompromising box.” In describing his reaction to the American context, the architect recalls that he was influenced by the work of both Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and
Louis Kahn. Indeed, there is a Miesian simplicity in this design, and a recollection of the kind of simple volumetric repetition seen in Kahn’s Kimbell Museum, for example.
After this relatively small structure, Ando moved on to one of the most prestigious commissions won recently by a foreign architect in an international competition in the United States, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, Texas, 1999–2002 ). With a floor area almost seven times greater than that of the Pulitzer Foundation, the Fort Worth museum is located near to Louis Kahn’s seminal Kimbell Art Museum. It comprises a series of parallel rectangular boxes, a rhythm interrupted only by the oblique oval shape of the café. The three shorter boxes house the exhibition areas, while the two longer ones are occupied by more public spaces. Generous gardens and a large pond create contiguous outdoor areas that are intended to contribute to the sense of place and civic pride generated by the museum. Here, as in so many other of his buildings, Ando uses the vocabulary of Modernism to new effects, proving that Euclidean geometry is not a thing of the past in architecture.
WATER, LIGHT, AND RECOGNITION
Tadao Ando does his best to minimize the impact of the awards he has received. He says, “Prizes are not really that important to me especially vis-à-vis what I have built. I am naturally honored to receive them, but I do make a conscious effort to keep my mind on my work. It may be that prizes have brought me more prestigious clients, but curiously those prestigious clients sometimes are very demanding, and in a sense, I must work all the harder to achieve my own goals. It is extremely important to me that I remain free in my own mind.” Defining his own set of rules, which might seem to be every bit as rigorous as the unity of time and place imposed on classical theater, Ando has set out to explore the past and the future of architecture. He has created links between East and West, between modernity and ancient tradition, between nature and the built environment, and between the very physical reality of a material as solid as concrete and the more ethereal realm of the spirit. Looking to his own country as well as to the modern and classical heritage of the West, he has chosen a clear path that leads to nothing other than the simplicity of perfection. Beyond the careful mastery he shows in the actual design of buildings, Ando has gone much further than most of today’s architects in considering the environment of architecture, particularly in its vegetal or water-borne manifestations. Many of Ando’s buildings make use of water, light, and nature itself to transcend the usual limits of architecture. Even in densely packed urban environments, light and wind recall that nature is never far. This Japanese concept travels well for those who have the presence of mind to look carefully at Ando’s work outside his native country. Although he is profoundly Japanese, he has, thanks in good part to his wife Yumiko, who speaks fluent English, reached out to build in many other parts of the world. Professional staff members such as Masataka Yano and Kulapat Yantrasast are also bilingual and travel constantly to bring Ando’s designs to life outside of Japan. No architect other than Ando has received the four most prestigious international awards for his profession: the Pritzker, Carlsberg, Praemium Imperiale, and Kyoto Prize. The juries of these prizes have acknowledged a fact to which his built work bears impressive witness: Tadao Ando is the world’s greatest living architect.
Ando: Complete Works 1975–2012 is published by Taschen; A 3,000 limited run of 300 numbered copies, presented in a matte-finish custom oakwood-box, designed by the architect, including an individual sketch hand-drawn and signed by Tadao Ando, is available now.