Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is a noted Japanese architect known for working with exposed cast-in-place concrete as the material of choice for his buildings and structures. Ando is known for his exemplary designs that are closely associated with the aesthetics of international modernism in terms of simplicity and style and the creative use of natural light.

Early Life

Tadao Ando was born on September 13, 1941 in Osaka, Japan. He was the first half of twin boys. Ando grew up at a time when Japan was recovering from the destruction wrought by war. He showed his skill in design initially when he started making wooden models of ships and airplanes when he was around 10 to 17 years old. He also learned carpentry from a shop just across their home in Osaka where he eventually started working.

Ando considered himself as a poor student. He preferred learning things on his own and never was comfortable in a classroom environment. He was especially a fan of the works of noted French architect Le Corbusier and who started his interest in architecture. He bought a book of Le Corbusier’s sketches which he traced so many times as part of his own way to learn about architecture.


With his love for architecture and design, he decided to learn more about the craft and art by actually visiting temples, shrines and tea houses around Japan. His education in architecture was more personal by studying actual buildings aside from learning about them through reading books.

Because of this interest, he found himself visiting other countries from 1962 to 1969 to further enrich his knowledge about architecture and its diverse styles. He went to the United States, Europe and Africa and was later on able to create his own architectural design ideas.

In 1969, Ando decided to put up his own design studio when he was 28 years old. He went on to design buildings and structures that evoked his own distinctive style, mostly using cast-in-place concrete as the primary material.

By 1995, Ando won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered as the highest distinction ever to be given to an individual in the field of architecture. It is quite an achievement for someone who never had taken any formal architectural training.

Noted Architectural Style

Tadao Ando was noted for his creative use of natural light and the creation of structures that blends with the natural environment and landscape instead of contrasting with it. Most of his structures show a play with closed and open spaces as well as utilizing the flow of light and air as an integral part of the design process. Simplicity marks most of his works but also display a level of complexity that seems to make his designs quite unique.

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