14 min read
Best Interior Designers

Top architects | Tadao Ando

Home | Introduction | Biography | Background and Realizations: the projects | The Most Iconic Project |  Special Project | Inspirational quotes by Tadao Ando | Projects Gallery


Tadao Ando is a  self-taught architect whose approach to architecture and landscape was categorized by architectural historian Francesco Dal Co as “critical regionalism”.

He was raised in Japan and this country really shaped his style as an architect and designer through religion and other culture aspects. 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”. “Reform society” could be a promotion of a place or a change of the identity of that place. According to Werner Blaser, “Good buildings by Tadao Ando create memorable identity and therefore publicity, which in turn attracts the public and promotes market penetration”.


The simplicity of his architecture emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical experiences, mainly influenced by the 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 at the same time. 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). 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 mind (kokoro), and the mind is the locus of god. Dwelling in a house is a search for the mind (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 mind (kokoro), as in their homeland.


Besides speaking of the spirit of architecture, Ando also emphasises the association between nature and architecture. 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. He donated the $100,000 prize money to the orphans of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

Ando says that most people talk about his work as being minimalist, but he explains that this is not truth because behind it there is a lot of thought an complex architectural techniques.



Tadao Ando was born in 1941 in Osaka, Japan. Growing up in that city as Japan recovered prom the war, Tadao Ando spent the most of time out of doors, and was raised by his grandmother, whose name was “ando”. From the age of 10 to 17 Tadao Ando worked at local carpenter, where Tadao Ando learned how to work with wood and built a number of models of airplanes and ships. His studying was very unusual. “I was never a good student. I always prefered learning things on my own outside of class. When I was about 18, I started to wisit temples, shrines and tea houses in Kyoto and nara; There’s a lot of great traditional architecture in the area. I was studying architecture by going to see actual building, and reading books about them.” His first interest in architecture was nourished in tadao’s 15 by buying a book of Le Corbusier sketches. “I traced the drawings of his early period so many times, that all pages turned black,” says Tadao Ando: “in my mind I quite often wonder how Le Corbusier would have thought about this project or that.”

Tadao Ando took a number of visits to the United States, Europe and Africa in the period between 1962 and 1969. It was certainly at that time that Tadao Ando began to form his own ideas about architectural design, before founding Tadao Ando Architectural & Associates in Osaka in 1969. Tadao Ando ‘s winner of many prestigous architectural awards, for example Carlsberg Prize (1992), Pritzker Prize (1995), Praemium Imperiale (1996), Gold Medal of Royal Institute of British Architects (1997) and now is one of the most highly respected architect in the world, influencing an entire generation of students.
The first impression of his architecture is its materiality. His large and powerfull walls set a limit. A second impression of his work is the tactility. His hard walls seem soft to touch, admit light, wind and stillness. Third impression is the emptiness, because only light space surround the visitor in Tadao Ando ‘s building.

“I am interested in a dialogue with the architecture of the past”, Tadao Ando says, “but it must be filtered through my own vision and my own experience. I am indebted to Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but the same way, I take what they did and interpret it in my own fashion.”


Background and Realizations: the projects

One of the first projects to bring international attention to Tadao Ando was his Rokko Housing I. (Kobe, Hyogo, 1981-83), which is situated much further down the slope of the Rokko Moutains than the Koshino house, this complex is wedged into a restricted site on a south-facing 60 degrees slope. Each of the 20 units is 5,4 x 4,8 m in size, and each has a terrace looking out towards the bush harbour of Kobe. Why was this monumental resident building so successful ? ” I think architecture becomes interesting when it has a double character, that is, when it is as simple as possible but, at the same time as complex as possible”

Some years later, Tadao Ando build a second housing complex, adjacent to Rokko Housing I. (Rokko Housing II.). Four times larger than the original building, this structure includes 50 dwellings, designed on a 5,2m square grid. A third and even larger structure is now under way above Rokko Housing II. (Rokko Housing III.), under construction.

Tadao Ando ‘s most remarkable works are certainly the religious buildings. “I feel that the goal of most religious is similar, to make men happier and more at ease with themselves. I see no contradiction in my designing christian churches. ” Tadao Ando has build a number of christian chapels and other places of religion and contemplation. One of the most amazing church is also one of his simplest. The church of the light (Baraki, Osaka, 1988-89) is located in a residential suburb 40 km to the north-east of the center of Osaka. It consists from a rectangular concrete box crossed at 15 degrees angle by freestanding wall. The bisecting wall obliges the visitor to turn to enter the chapel. As ever with Tadao Ando, entering a building requires an act of will and an awareness of the architecture. 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.

Awaji is the largest island of the inland sea, set 600km to the south-west of Tokyo opposite Kobe in the bay of Osaka. Here, on hill above a small port, Tadao Ando build his Water Temple. Following a small footpath, the visitor first sees a long concrete wall, 3m high, with a single opening. Through this door one does not find an entrance, but rather another wall, blank, but carved this time, bordered by a white gravel path. Having walked past this new screen of concrete, the visitor discovers an oval lotus pond, 40m long and 30m wide. In the centre of the pond, a stair way descends to the real entrance of the temple. Below the Lotus Fond, within a circle 18M in diameter, the architect has inscribed a 17.4 m square. Here, within a grid of red wood, a statue of buddha turns its back to the west, where the only openings admits the glow of the setting sun. In this place at sunset the words of Tadao Ando can be more clearly understood: “architecture,” Tadao Ando says, “has forgotten that space can be a source of inspiration.” The other religious buildings are: Water Temple in Hyiogo, Meditation space UNESCO in Paris, etc.

The Children’s museum (1988-1989) is located on a large wooded hillside site overlooking a lake near the city of Himeji. In this mature work of Tadao 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 theatres, 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 Tadao Ando has placed a surprising group of 16 concrete columns in a square grid. In their wooded setting, these 9m high pillars recall that the first columns in architectural history were inspired by trees. Just down the road from the children’s museum Tadao Ando designed the Children’s Seminar House (1991-92). A residence for schoolchildren on vacation, which is capped by a small observatory. The other museums are: The Museum of Literature, Naoshima Contemporary Art museum, Chikatsu-Asuka Historical museum, etc.

There are many islands in the many islands in the inland sea of japan that are architectonicaly designed into a small cities. There are projects like naoshima museum and hotel (1990 – 92 and 1994 – 95), located at the southern end of island naoshima, and the great project for Awaji island, Hyogo. It was designed in 1992 and from year 1997 is under construction. This north – eastern shore of Awajishima. Tadao Ando describes it: “The program is for multi-use facility including a botanic garden, a place for the study of horticulture, an open-air theater, a convention hall, a hotel and a guest house. Our first idea was to restore the greenery, more specifically to hold a flower exposition there and to develop the idea into a permanent garden. We called this the millenium garden, and the project was developed on the basis of that concept. It was decided that the facilities would be linked by living things, that is, plants such as trees and flowers, and the flow of water and people. The alhamera in granada provides a historical model.

Tadao Ando is the world ‘s greatest living architect. If Tadao Ando has one weakness it may by a difficulty in translating the grandeur of his smaller buildings to a larger scale.


Recent Projects

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Ando-Clark Art Institute Williamstown

Hansol Museum (San Museum ) Wonju South Korea 2013


Aurora Museum Shanghai China 2013

First Projects

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Rokko Housing I-1 best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Rokko Housing I

Rokko Housing I

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-church of the light-Baraki-Osaka best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-church of the light-Baraki-Osaka

Church of the light, Baraki, Osaka

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Water Temple best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Water Temple best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Water Temple best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Tadao-Water Temple

Water Temple

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Hyogo-prefectural-museum-of-art best-interior-designers-Top-architects-Hyogo-prefectural-museum-of-art


The Most Iconic Project

Tadao Ando’s First NYC building

An “ultra-luxury” condominium project known as 152 Elizabeth Street, the 32,000-square-foot building will replace an existing parking lot with a concrete structure comprised of seven residences – all of which will be “treated as custom homes” and “individually configured.”

“Part concrete, part jewel box, the building makes a strong yet quiet statement with a façade comprised of voluminous glass, galvanized steel and flanked by poured in-place concrete and a living green wall that rises the height of the building,” says the architects. The green wall, measuring 55-feet-high and 99-feet-wide and spanning the entire southern façade, is expected to be one of the largest in New York and will be designed by landscaping firm M. Paul Friedberg and Partners.

“One of the building’s signature design features is found in its vestibule, a floor-to ceiling water wall with grooved glass panels that is naturally backlit by diffused natural light,” said the architects, commenting on the building’s design which will reference four primary elements – light, sound, air, and water. “Residents and visitors immediately experience the tension between light and shadow, with light piercing through slits in the walls, animating the room’s architectural concrete surfaces.”

Complementing the water wall in the front vestibule, the lobby will host another design feature with atmospheric quality and elemental presence. Carved within the exterior concrete wall parallel to the East elevation of the lobby will be a dynamic fog and light installation that interacts with the natural environment. The ever-changing installation will transition naturally depending on the time of day, night, weather conditions and season. Paired with the ambient noise from the water wall, the volume of illuminated mist furthers the sensory experience, creating a sanctuary from the bustling city immediately upon entering the building. The accessibility of these environmental features in the building’s public spaces serve to provide a cohesive sense of pleasure and visual stimulation.”

152 Elizabeth Street will be developed in Nolita by Sumaida + Khurana. Ando will collaborate with Michael Gabellini on the building’s interiors.

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building-2 best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building-2 best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building-2best-interior-designers-Top-architects-first-nyc-building-5


Special Project


Today Tadao Ando, 73, with a studio in Osaka, after having built works all over the world and passed through different stylistic phases, seems to have achieved a new kind of happiness.
For some time now he has been one of the main protagonists of the contemporary scene, at least since the beginning of the 1980s, when his Rokko Houses were published in the magazine “Casabella,” which later issued an entire special notebook on that project. He was precocious and restless, emerging as a champion of modernism, who has then devoted decades to the pursuit of novelty, originality and new perspectives, leading to results that have often been controversial among critics. In his various periods he has experimented with the acrid taste of brute material, the rigors of the strictest minimalism, exploring a new monumentality based on geometric solids. But now the pursuit of new effects seems to be finished. Maybe he has finally been liberated from the need to be constantly innovative and surprising at all costs. He now applies his talent without inhibitions or ideologies, to achieve the finest possible results. And maybe this is precisely a way, thanks to the freshness of the approach, to become even more innovative and contemporary than he was in the past. The production of this recent Ando is very positive for all: for his clients, who can enjoy excellent spaces organized in a surprising way; and for the critics, no longer forced to rack their brains to interpret the intellectual flights of a master who is also famous for being a man of few words, spoken or written. This fine house on the heights of Monterrey, in Mexico, confirms this recent trend towards simplification, composition through free volumes, concatenation of spaces. Ando practices a freedom of invention that combines the plastic force originating long ago in Le Corbusier with a capacity to control vision that is very theatrical, in the interiors, with a clear landscape inspiration in the exteriors. The Centro Roberto Garza Sada, a university building just built by Ando in the center of Monterrey, fully develops these characteristics with an energy that borders on brutality, with a sort of exhibited, sculptural muscular force. In the house shown here, we can see the same energy and determination, combining apparently extraneous volumes in forced bondings, but used with more grace, with all the care needed to avoid compromising the comfort, elegance and sense of welcome necessary for any domestic space. Of course there are virtuoso touches, but they happen on a plane of greater lightness, emphasizing the spectacular dimension, which is important in a villa of great luxury, and they remember to carefully connect every space, every view, every material in a continuous narrative, in which differences and changes come together in the end to form a unified image. A narrative punctuated by emotions, spectacular moments, like the transparent slab of the swimming pool that extends, like an ethereal blade of light, over the crest of the hill, suspended in the void over the panorama of the city of Monterrey. The way the outdoor living area is circumscribed and sheltered, facing the swimming pool, is symptomatic of Ando’s art: on one side, by an elegant concrete portal, patterned by the marks of the formwork, a true signature of the Japanese architect; on the other, by the visor that extends over the glass door leading to the living room inside. Free, independent architectural elements, designed with the terse lexicon of modernism, that appear as sculptural objects, not immediately revealing their function. The house itself, as a whole, is conceived as a conflict between contrasting figures and volumes, an overall scheme based on the square and the diagonal volume that pierces and surpasses it, fastening onto the edge of the ridge above it. The problem of connecting the two figures becomes the project theme: inside, the courtyard is cut into two triangles treated in opposite ways. One space becomes a flourishing green garden, the other a gray garden, without nature, composed only of a pool of water, that makes it inaccessible and reflects the light projected by the glazed wall and the exposed concrete walls. Inside, the diagonal volume contains the spaces with special functions, using the entire length of the volume. On the level below, a large library has shelves that rise to exploit the entire height, while a staircase rises in the space to fasten to the slab of the level above, where one reaches a space occupied by a very long dining table, offering a view, through a completely glazed wall, of the internal courtyard and the wild landscape of the Cumbres de Monterrey.

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey best-interior-designers-Top-architects-house-in-monterrey

Books about Ando

GA Houses 60 – Tadao Ando Tips on House Design

The Chichu Art Museum: Tadao Ando Builds For Claude Monet, Walter De Maria And James Turrell

Seven Interviews With Tadao Ando

El Croquis 44/58: Tadao Ando

The Colours of Light: Tadao Ando Architecture

Tadao Ando: Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum

Tadao Ando: Buildings, projects, writings

Global Architecture Document Extra: Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando: Architecture and Spirit (Monographs on Architecture, Architect’s Typologies Series)

Tadao Ando, Le Opere, Gli Scritti, LA Critica (Documenti di architettura)



Inspirational quotes by Tadao Ando

best-interior-designers-Top-architects-tadao-ando best-interior-designers-Top-architects-tadao-ando-7 best-interior-designers-Top-architects-tadao-ando-8best-interior-designers-Top-architects-tadao-ando-6

Sources:, wikipedia,,,,,,,,,,,,


Projects Gallery