Tadao Ando - The Self Taught Architect

Tadao Ando was raised within Osaka’s typical shitamachi, a mixed-use neighbourhood comprising of low-income row houses, shops and small factories. The streets served as school and the factories as classrooms for Ando. Every day Tadao frequented a carpenter’s shop across the street from his grandmother's house. There he learned to recognise wood’s personality and witnessed the precision of the human hand.


At 24 Tadao left everything behind to travel the world, returning after four years he began his professional career as an architect, opening an office in Osaka. He says that “true architecture is not space expressed through metaphysics or aesthetics, but space that embodies physically absorbed wisdom. A transparent geometry governs Ando’s work. It is clear but far from simple. It profoundly reflects the way he has lived his life, his philosophy and his past experiences. It provokes architectural awe and is in itself a movement.


Tadao Ando still resides in Osaka where his atelier is. The atelier is a deep cavern where Tadao has his space at the very bottom, The atelier has been extended three times and finally rebuilt in 1991 to accommodate Ando’s expanding team and serves as a case study for several key principles that typify the 76-year-old’s work. Its smooth concrete walls have a tactility that is enhanced by natural light flooding in through carefully positioned windows and skylights, while the arrangement of interconnected geometric volumes produces constantly shifting perspectives. This mastery of space, light and materiality is evident in every one of Ando’s exquisitely detailed projects.