Tadao Ando, ​​80, rebuilds his youth in China

Shakespeare said that youth is a short dream, and when you wake up, it has long since disappeared.

The youth in Tadao Ando's eyes is completely different. One of his favorite poems by Ullman:

Youth is not a certain period in life. Youth is the appearance of the heart.
Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.

Tadao Ando, ​​now 80 years old, has become one of the most influential architects in the world from truck driver and boxer to self-taught architecture, travels around the world, and losing streak.

▲Photograph from: Nobuyoshi Araki

Tadao Ando's entire architectural design career so far is the most comprehensive large-scale retrospective, which opened in Beijing recently.

The theme is called "Youth".

This is the fifth stop of Tadao Ando's global touring exhibition after Japan, France, Italy, and Shanghai, China. It also broke the special case of "One Country, One Exhibition" and opened two touring exhibitions in China for the first time.

▲ Shanghai "Challenge" exhibition, photography: Chen Hao

The Chinese audience and fans are so enthusiastic.

Said Ma Weidong, Chinese partner of Tadao Ando Institute of Architecture.

It's easy to feel this kind of enthusiasm when you rub shoulders in the crowd of visitors.

Before entering the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, you can see a huge green apple at the door. It looks crisp and bright, attracting a wave of young people queuing up for a photo, although it does not seem to match the title of Tadao Ando as the "Poet of Fair-Created Concrete."

▲ Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

In fact, the more eye-catching this apple, the more it demonstrates the driving force behind all Tadao Ando's buildings: a youthful spirit.

▲ Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

If you know something about Tadao Ando, ​​it is easy to be impressed by his legendary experience over the past 80 years.

Tadao Ando was born in an ordinary Japanese family. Neighbors commented that he was "nothing to learn, and the number one quarrel." Because of his love for architecture, he was self-taught, sneaked into colleges and universities, and traveled all over the world alone, leaving several controversial and bright moments in the history of architecture.

In the past few years, there were frequent false news about Tadao Ando's death. The reality is indeed not optimistic. He was finally removed with 5 internal organs and still survived. To this day, he is still active in the forefront of construction work.

▲ 13-year-old Tadao Ando (third from right in the bottom row)

▲ 17-year-old boxer Tadao Ando

▲ In 1965, Tadao Ando took a boat from Yokohama Port to Europe for the first time

▲ Tadao Ando in his own office in 1969

Tadao Ando is therefore often referred to as the "fighter" in the construction industry.

▲Tadao Ando at the Museum of Modern Art in Wolfsburg. He was in poor health and had cancer

The exhibition site also fully presented Ando Tadao's works and thoughts over the past 52 years in the construction industry. From the moment I entered the exhibition, the green apple-like creativity flowed.

Without the iconic spire of a traditional church, without any complicated decorations, walking through a small concrete corridor, you enter a dark space.

This place makes people feel as if they fell into a sacred place isolated from the outside world in an instant. There are only huge cross openings on the wall in front of them, and the white sunlight pours in from the wall.

This is the "Church of Light".

▲ Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

"Church of Light" is one of Tadao Ando's most classic architectural works "Church Trilogy". The other two buildings are "Church of Water" and "Church of Wind".

This is Tadao Ando's early work, and it is also the most widely circulated work. It became the "prototype" for all spaces he later created, and his style of making good use of light and shadow, geometry, and natural elements continues to this day.

The exhibition reproduced the "Church of Light" and "Church of Water" 1:1. According to Ma Weidong, this form has not appeared in any architectural exhibitions in China.

When people are shocked by the cross-shaped light in front of them, the essence of the "Church of Light" is that it actually breaks the traditional design of the altar being higher than the seat of the believer and the priest looking down on the believer. There are no steps in the church, only a downward slope. The priest and the believer stand at the same height to convey the vision of equality for everyone in the world.

Because there are stained glass on the exterior of Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, the light shining from the opening of the cross also shines fascinatingly on the concrete wall, which is an unexpected surprise for the re-engraving of the "Church of Light" in this Beijing exhibition.

▲ Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

Before entering the "Church of Light", another classic building of Tadao Ando: the UNESCO Meditation Space was reproduced here for the first time.

It was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995. It is also hoped that this place can transcend all religions and sects and embody world peace.

▲ Photography from: Stephane Couturier

▲ Photography from: Stephane Couturier

Its design looks as simple as the "Church of Light", but it seems to burst out with complex expressiveness.

Entering it, the space here presents a kind of "firm and independent will." When you look up, a static and luminous ring is equally shrouded in everyone's head.

▲ Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

This calm and harmony also continued to the next location: the "Church of Water".

A huge cross stands outside the completely open wall. When the breeze blows the ripples under the cross, the dense birch forest will rustle. Every winter comes, thick snow covers the water, dry branches become still, time and space begin to sink.

▲ Photography: Shiratori Mio

It is the only church in the world with the theme of "water", and it reflects Tadao Ando's architectural philosophy of allowing architecture and nature to coexist and bringing humans closer to nature.

Tadao Ando moved the "Church of Water" in Hokkaido in winter directly into the museum.

Because of the limited space, it is impossible to reproduce the forests and streams, but in the light and shadow of the huge picture, people can also feel the ingenuity of the integration of nature and architecture.

▲Reproduction site of the Beijing Exhibition. Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

Tadao Ando's architecture is a space built of fair-faced concrete, and it is also an art that combines root themes such as nature, light and shadow, and geometry.

This kind of architecture and art seemed avant-garde and unconventional at the time. Questions surrounding aesthetics, practicality, and functionalism continued.

▲ Chizhong Art Museum, picture from: Tadao Ando Institute of Architecture

▲Shingon Buddhism Honfukuji Water Palace, picture from: Tadao Ando Architectural Research Institute

The most criticized and controversial work is his debut work: Sumiyoshi's Longhouse.

In the on-site model, you can still see this small house with only 46 square meters. 1/3 is an open atrium. The activity line is cut into sections by the atrium. There is a completely hollowed-out corridor on the top of the atrium. It even rains. Go to the room on the other side with an umbrella.

▲ Picture from: Tadao Ando Institute of Architecture

It has won many international awards. However, the judge of the Yoshida 58th Prize, Murano Fujigo, pointed out ruthlessly, "This award should be given to the residents of this room."

From a functionalist point of view, it is indeed not suitable for everyone.

However, its existence is also a survey of contemporary lifestyles, or a new kind of satisfaction.

▲ Although the room is small, the sun can shine on every floor

Therefore, each room guarantees absolute privacy in the noisy city, and at the same time, the vast atrium allows people to have a close connection with nature. In Tadao Ando's view:

It is the essence of residence to integrate life into nature.

Later, Tadao Ando's many architectural concepts have actually been completed in Sumiyoshi's long house.

After his firm's popularity gradually rose, more and more clients also came here admiringly.

During the 1980s, the firm's projects expanded from small residences to urban public buildings. At that time, Japanese urban space was completely dominated by an out-of-control market mechanism. Tadao Ando hoped to use architecture to fill the gap between modern cities and natural features.

In this process, his and his team’s unique ideas have been in a difficult see-saw with the needs of the owners and developers. Tadao Ando constantly seeks balance and insists on guarding his bottom line. He finds that instead of this, he has more and more independent creative space.

It is also at this stage that a large number of difficult project challenges continue to be carried out. For example, the Liujia multi-housing built on a cliff, when everyone thought it was too dangerous to be realized, he became more aggressive and broke through all difficulties to realize this "modern version of the cliff cantilever building."

Until Tadao Ando's architectural career, the most challenging project appeared-the transformation of Naoshima.

In the past, Tadao Ando had to return to nature in the city, but this time, he had to create a new landscape in the deserted nature.

It all originated in 1999. Fukutake Foundation Chairman Soichiro Fukutake had a grand idea: He wanted to completely transform a deserted island carrying a historical tragedy: waste gas pollution, industrial waste all over, and trees everywhere. But Soichiro Fukutake wants to regenerate this place into an art island that combines nature and culture.

This time Tadao Ando thought it was impossible. This even goes beyond the framework of the building.

▲ The exhibition space itself is a light and shadow art scene cut by the most powerful "walls" and "pillars" in Tadao Ando's geometry, presenting this island of art from all angles. Picture from: Wenzhu International, Photography: Tian Fangfang

Finally, under Fukutake Soichiro's determination and persistence, Tadao Ando was still moved. They spent as long as 30 years transforming the island, subversively building all buildings under the land, and at the same time allowing nature, art, and culture to converge here. Now, Naoshima has also changed from a small island with only 3,500 people to an art mecca where 700,000 people come every year.

I hope this is an art gallery that gathers people from all over the world and makes everyone feel courageous.

So far, in every new architectural work of Tadao Ando, ​​what is called "courage" can also be found in it.

Why can't society become better and the world more interesting?

In the past, Tadao Ando always shared his doubts, criticisms, and whimsical ideas with his predecessors in the architectural world. Although Tadao Ando has no strong background and no architectural degree, he said that he has also been accepted and supported by many predecessors.

When the world entered the era of the global village, these Japanese architects also moved to the international stage.

▲Reconstruction of the Customs Building. Photo by: Shigeo Ogawa

Tadao Ando’s architectural path, from early designing residential works to gradually "invading" the city, creating diversified landmark buildings, and creating unique public landscapes. Now he is starting to go out of Osaka, Japan, and his works are all over Europe, America, Africa, Asia.

He has created a series of works on the theme of reconstruction of ancient buildings in various countries, trying to retain traditional memories while also developing new modern spaces. The exhibition site shows Tadao Ando from the late 1980s to the just completed in 2021. The latest work of the company has placed a complete architectural model, design manuscript, and video.

These buildings still look like Tadao Ando, ​​and are full of various elements.

▲Paris Stock Exchange and the exhibition model. The pictures are from: Matsuoka Mano & Chen Hao

These buildings still look like Tadao Ando, ​​and are full of various elements.

It can be observed that Tadao Ando's creations in different countries have collided and merged with the local history, culture, social system, and different values.

In China, Tadao Ando has received unprecedented welcome, as can be seen from the two global touring exhibitions held in China for the first time.

▲2012 "Asian Times" Tadao Ando Shanghai Ten Thousand People Lecture. Picture from: Wenzhu International

2002 was the first year that Tadao Ando began his 16-year "Journey to China". He gave his first lecture in Shanghai that year. The fate of Tadao Ando with China was largely attributed to Ma Weidong’s “bridging” as a writer. The founder of Zhu International, also a student of Tadao Ando, ​​soon became the Chinese partner of Tadao Ando Institute of Architecture.

Following the establishment of international cooperation teams in Europe and America, Tadao Ando has also left many works that have attracted much attention in China.

He often thinks of the words of George Keizo, who has the deepest friendship with him:

In any case, life can't be boring. Try to stay excited and dare to live! People who are not moved cannot succeed.

Then we saw that the first grand theater in Tadao Ando's architectural career, the Shanghai Poly Grand Theater, was completed in 2014.

▲Shanghai Poly Grand Theater. Photography from: Shigeo Ogawa

In 2020, the He Art Museum, the first art museum focusing on Chinese Lingnan culture, opened, and Tadao Ando created the double helix fair-faced concrete staircase here for the first time.

Next, there are more than ten projects in progress in China alone, and the highly anticipated one is the church of poetry, the final song of the upcoming church in Heyuan, Guangdong.

▲ Picture from: Tadao Ando Institute of Architecture

Regarding Tadao Ando's criteria for choosing domestic projects, Ma Weidong told Ai Faner, "If this project is interesting and can stimulate challenges, no matter where it is, whether the owner has money or not, I believe he will do it."

At present, Tadao Ando still maintains a studio with only a few dozen people, and at the same time continues one large-scale project after another around the world.

This year is also Tadao Ando's 80th birthday.

In retrospect, "youth" is Tadao Ando's theme throughout his life, and it is also one of the spirits that Tadao Ando wants to convey the most.

Tadao Ando’s "youth" has many universal and unique labels.

For example, rebellion, passion, determination, determination, courage.

When young people come to listen to Tadao Ando's lectures and see Tadao Ando's exhibitions, they may be practitioners in the construction industry or students majoring in architecture, but when the crowds are empty, more people come here, many ordinary people.

Ma Weidong mentioned to Ai Fan'er that from the names of all of Tadao Ando's touring exhibitions, it can be seen that they are often irrelevant to architecture.

In 2017, the touring exhibition was named "Leadership", in 2019, the touring exhibition was named "Challenge", the exhibition in Shanghai, China in 2020 was named "Beyond", and this time in Beijing was named "Youth".

These words are the characteristics that everyone has, or the spirit that everyone wants to have. What Mr. Ando's architecture wants to convey is also an essential thing, and this essential thing can change people.

On the day of the opening ceremony, Tadao Ando also talked about the controversy behind Sumiyoshi's long house. He said to us:

Compared with the comfort, design, and reasonableness of the house, what I care more about and want to convey to everyone is, what kind of world will architecture leave in the hearts of people living in it?

When people walk into various buildings, they think "this is how the long house in Sumiyoshi feels like this" and "the church of light is like this." When people accept this information and internalize it into their own thinking, Then use it in your work and life to think about what you can do. This is what Tadao Ando believes that architecture can bring.

It is a kind of spirit about architecture, and it is also a kind of spirit about architecture.

▲ Photography from: Shigeo Ogawa

Architecture is the origin of life and the container of life.

When architecture is more than just a tool, a product, and a space, young people begin to turn touring architecture into a way of life, which also allows architects to think more about the responsibilities of architecture.

More and more buildings have become volitional spaces, and they have also been given more prospects in the new era.

Ma Weidong and Ai Faner revealed that they are trying to open a digital art museum in the virtual world of Metaverse, so that the architectural works will no longer be restricted by geographical areas, but that the feelings brought by architecture can be global shared.

It seems that digital technology seems to be in conflict with nature in reality. Ma Weidong explained that this is precisely a kind of harmony.

Technology is a means and form that can break the limits of people's understanding, and what they want to express will always be the core. In his view, scientists, architects, and artists take different paths, but they are pursuing the same point to lead to, and it must be the most essential thing of human beings.

"Architecture will also develop in the most essential direction, and there is less and less need for hypocrisy," he said:

When everything becomes simple and everything returns to quiet, its spiritual attributes will naturally appear.

In the end, a green apple is left.

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