No matter how the times or the social situation may change, dwelling will always be an essential aspect of human life. The house is the origin of architecture, and there is no deeper way in which an architect can engage society than through creating a house.—Tadao Ando
Row House Sumiyoshi (1976) by Tadao AndoOriginal Source: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
Row House in Sumiyoshi (1976)
The Row House in Sumiyoshi, which marked the starting point of Ando’s illustrious career as a world-renowned architect, stands in a corner of a down-to-earth Osakan neighborhood lined with traditional wooden row houses.
A Building that Confronts the City
An architecture defined by strict geometric spatial composition, formed with the single material of exposed concrete. Ando realized a very pure manifestation of the themes that he extracted from the early modernist architecture he encountered during his travels
The simple composition with its varied spaces, its impervious character, and its living spaces that are brought alive by light—this house can be described as the archetype of what I imagine architecture to be.—Tadao Ando (translated excerpt from Andō Tadao: Jūtaku)
An architecture defined by strict geometric spatial composition, formed with the single material of exposed concrete.
Despite the differences in their materials and design, the house that Ando made by replacing one of three linked wooden row houses bears a curious resemblance to the house in which he was born and raised.
The exceptionally small space makes us question common thinking and popular trends and forces us to rethink what is essential to everyday life.
The small enclosed concrete box severs the domestic environment from the city and creates a self-contained space within.
This was a solution that Ando arrived at a time when urban environmental deterioration was growing more severe.
At the same time, he conceived it as a stronghold for individuals fighting in the battle against the established norms of society.
Ando realized a very pure manifestation of the themes that he extracted from the early modernist architecture he encountered during his travels as a youth.
Koshino House (1981/1984) by Tadao AndoOriginal Source: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
Koshino House (1977)
This house designed for fashion designer Hiroko Koshino stands within a rich natural environment in the woody foothills of a mountain. It presented a new challenge for Ando, who had previously only designed closed-off houses in dense urban areas.
Geometries that Express the Individuality of a Place
The two concrete boxes were positioned to avoid the existing trees and partially embedded into the slope so that architecture would blend into the environment.
What came to Ando’s mind when he saw the lush site was the relationship between traditional Japanese buildings and their gardens.
Having visited the old temples and shrines in the Keihanshin area from an early age, Ando knew very well that traditional Japanese buildings were designed integrally with their gardens. He sought to do the same here to create a single integrated environment.
Building on his previous work with urban houses, Ando created a strict geometric composition formed homogeneously with concrete.
The light, which is brought in sparingly, imparts a sense of time to the abstract spaces.
These are not closed spaces that are cut off from their surroundings, however; rather, the geometries and natural topography mutually enhance each other and generate a pleasant tension in the spaces.
The universality of the geometries and the individuality of the landscape coexist in binary opposition. Ando would apply this approach of treating the architecture as part of a larger environment again for the Awaji Yumebutai and the Chichu Art Museum
Kidosaki House (1981) by Tadao AndoOriginal Source: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
Kidosaki House (1986)
This is a three-family multi-generational home that Ando designed with the concept of creating “spaces that are as complex and varied as possible within a form that is as simple as can be.”
Creating Spatial Richness Through Simplicity
He employed a simple geometric composition consisting of a central three-tiered block that measures 12 meters on each side and is encircled by a perimeter wall.
The arced wall gently guides people into the site from the street.
The gardens created in the spaces between the block and the perimeter wall serve to provide each house with privacy while also adding visual depth to the interiors.
Contrary to the clarity of the geometric composition, on the inside, the living spaces for the three families are complexly intertwined with each other in a maze-like manner.
This method of creating three-dimensional labyrinthine spaces through simple geometric operations became a hallmark of Ando’s work as he continued to employ it in his designs for public and commercial facilities.
Ando has found all the architectural themes he has worked with through designing houses for clients who came to him with their dreams. Even as the scale and social demands of his projects changed, the question of how people should dwell has always been at the basis of his work.
Supervision：Tadao Ando Architect & Associates