Door 14: Tadao Ando

Modern and often contemporary architecture is seen as trying to be as exuberant and show off as possible. A contemporary who has been titled critical regionalist, because he takes into account the environment and the history of a site but still give it a modern touch, is the Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

Inside his atelier © Kaita Takemura / Port

He became an architect via an untypical path. After graduating from high school, he first was a professional boxer. His interest in architecture was bigger and so he took on night classes and apprenticeships, but mainly taught himself. He did so by traveling through Europe, the United States and Africa and visited buildings by famous architects.

Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church © Mitsuo Matsuoka

Back in Japan he opened his own studio or has likes to call it his atelier Tadao Ando Architect & Associates in Osaka in 1969. Stylistically he soon found his own language, as he combines Japanese tradition with modern elements. Geometrically he is quite strict and prefers simple shapes, but always takes the natural environment into account.

This simplicity is reflected in his use use of materials, mainly concrete, steel and glass. He is also known for his play with natural light and the resulting shadows. His former job as a boxer helps him in his creativity, as sees "creation as fighting" and the permanent "struggle between ideals and reality."

Langen Foundation

Famous buildings are among others the Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church, known as Church of the Light, built in 1989 in Ibaraki, Japan, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. In 1995 he got awarded the Pritzker price and donated the entire price money to the orphans of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. In recent years he got more and more involved in environmental issues and is about to build his sea forest, umi no mori, a floating forest on an abandoned site.