No matter how traditional the function, Ando uses modern materials and is influenced by the geometry of Le Carbusier, Louis Kahn and Frank Lloyd Wright inspired by Corbusier's Unites d'Habitation, concrete is his trademark, used in a rough dynamic way with the quality of construction dependent on the wooden formwork.
Some of his most important works of the past few years are the Church on the Water, Hokkaido (1988), the Church of Light in Ibaraki (1989), the Museum of Literature, Himeji, and the Temple on the Water, Awahji, completed in 1991. In 1992 he designed the Japanese pavilion at Seville Expo, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Naoshima and begun the Fabrica project in Treviso. In 1993 the second stage of the Rokko housing complex, Kobe, was completed, followed by a third stage finished in 1999.
Ando suggests that in our generation the advance of science and technology has been so significant we have become conditioned by it. However, he believes that in the next generation science will be balanced by nature. Opposed to the creeping menace of consumerism, he has a profound respect for nature, the influence of climate, the change of seasons, weather, wind and rain, based on the animistic national religion of Shinto.
From the mid-Nineties to the present day he has created a series of remarkable works, including the Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum, Minamikawachi, and the Suntory Museum, Osaka (1994), the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum annexe (1995), the Daylight Museum (Hiroki Oda Museum) in Gamo-gun (1998). Tadao Ando Architect & Associates has taken part in several international competitions, winning those for the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (1997), for the Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Modern Art (1997), for the Manchester City Centre Piccadilly Gardens' Regeneration (1999), for St John's Abbey, Minnesota (2000).
In his 40 year career, Tadao Ando has become associated with a single material (gray concrete) used in a singular way (with wooden framework that infuses the concrete with grain and imperfection). With this method, even the heaviest concrete walls bear permanent reminders of Japan's ancient woodworking traditions.
Ando experimented with glass block and wood construction as his buildings became larger, but he repeatedly returned to concrete, finding new ways to dematerialize large volumes, such as placing them in shallow pools of water or burrowing underground. Despite his identification with a limited palette, Ando's work is as varied as that of any of his contemporaries. Indeed, it is a sign of his genius that he has done so much with so little.
Ando abandoned his boxing career to apprentice himself to a carpenter and might have started a career as a builder instead of an architect except that he kept encouraging his clients to accept his unconventional design ideas. He had no formal architectural training. Using a list of the books architecture students were assigned to read in four years, he trained himself within one year. He did not apprentice to another architect because every time he tried, he has explained in interviews, he was fired for "stubbornness and temper."
Tadao Ando is one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects. His designs are often compared to those of Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier and he obviously takes some inspiration from their work. Characteristics of Ando's work include large expanses of unadorned walls combined with wooden or slate floors and large windows. Active natural elements, like sun, rain, and wind are a distinctive inclusion to his contemporary style.
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.
"Light is the origin of all being. Light gives, with each moment, new form to being and new interrelationships to things, and architecture condenses light to its most concise being. The creation of space in architecture is simply the condensation and purification of the power of light."
- Tadao Ando