Page N3.2 . 13 July 2005                     
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    Tadao Ando UIA Gold Medal


    Ando was born in Osaka, in 1941. He was self-educated, and absorbed a knowledge of architecture by traveling around the world, especially in Japan, Europe, the United States, and Africa. He discovered and became fascinated by the work of Le Corbusier.

    In 1995, Ando received the prestigious Pritzker Prize and in 2002, a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects. Today, in addition to his architectural practice in Osaka, he now teaches at the University of Tokyo.

    In writing about Ando's Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, architecture professor Elizabeth Bollinger reports on some of the craft that goes into the architect's special touch with concrete: "He explains that the quality of this work depends not on the mix of the material itself, but rather on the formwork into which the concrete is poured. Well crafted, watertight wooden forms are essential, and Ando's forms are varnished to achieve the smooth finish."

    Bollinger continues: "One mark of Ando's careful attention to detail is that he recesses all objects affixed to the walls, such as light switches, electrical outlets, and exit signs. This requires that the negative spaces to accommodate the components be accurately sized and perfectly positioned in the wooden forms before the concrete is poured. 'The Modern' exemplifies the fine work that this designer/ craftsman expects and upon which he has built his reputation."

    Earlier Masterworks

    One of his more notable early projects is the Azuma House in Osaka, Japan. Critic Darlene Levy describes it as "a simple, narrow concrete rectangular residence" in the city's dense, urban core. She writes: "with spaces flanking an interior courtyard, there is an attempt to return the 'contact with light, air, rain, and other natural elements' to the Japanese life-style. In addition to providing light and serving as the focal point of family life, this small court is a spatial entity that attempts to compensate for the reduced physical space."

    Ando himself says of the Azuma House: "In its simple but rich spatial composition, in its expression of enclosure, and in the way light gives character to daily-life spaces, this house encapsulates an image of my architecture." Kenneth Frampton describes these principles as "creating introspective microcosms to stand against the urban chaos of the late modern world."

    A later project is "Rokko Housing One," a group of 20 public housing units built into a hillside in Kobe, Japan. Gaps between the units form plazas and terraces overlooking the ocean. Ando's first public structure in the United States was the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri.

    On receiving the AIA Gold Medal in 2002, Ando said: "The aim of my design is to impart rich meaning to spaces through natural elements and the many aspects of daily life. In other words, I try to relate the fixed form and compositional method to the kind of life that will be lived in the given space and to local regional society. My mainstay in selecting the solutions to these problems is my independent architectural theory ordered on the basis of a geometry of simple forms, my own ideas of life, and my emotions as a Japanese."

    Since its creation, the UIA Gold Medal has been awarded to: Hassan Fathy (Egypt), Reima Pietila (Finland), Charles Correa (India), Fumihiko Maki (Japan), Rafael Moneo (Spain), Ricardo Legorreta (Mexico), and Renzo Piano (Italy), in 2002. This year's UIA jury included by Jaime Lerner (Brazil), Vassilis Sgoutas (Greece), Jean Claude Riguet (France), Donald J. Hackl (USA), Gaetan Siew (Mauritius), Josť Cortes Delgado (Mexico), Louise Cox (Australia), Wolf Tochtermann (Germany), and Jordi Farrando (Spain).   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, designed by UIA gold medalist Tadao Ando.
    Photo: Elizabeth Bollinger

    ArchWeek Image

    Architect's sketch of "The Modern."
    Image: Tadao Ando

    ArchWeek Image

    Inside The Modern.
    Photo: Elizabeth Bollinger

    ArchWeek Image

    Architect's sketch of The Modern.
    Image: Tadao Ando

    ArchWeek Image

    UIA gold medalist Tadao Ando is known for his sculptural treatment of concrete.
    Great Buildings Photo © Kevin Matthews

    ArchWeek Image

    Interior view of the Azuma House in Osaka, Japan.
    Image: Great Buildings

    ArchWeek Image

    Plan view of the Azuma House in Osaka, Japan illustrates its pure simplicity.
    Image: Great Buildings

    ArchWeek Image

    The beautifully composed cliff-like massing of Ando's Rokko Housing One in Kobe, Japan.
    Image: Great Buildings


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