1997 - Tadao Ando 1941 -

Kidosaki house, Setagaya, Tokyo, 1986

Designer: Ando, Tadao (1941-)
Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1986)

Tadao Ando is largely self-taught and set up practice in his home city of Osaka in 1969. Although he has been honoured with awards from America and Europe (he is an Honorary Fellow of both the RIBA and the American Institute of Architects), most of his work has been done in Japan.


Notable exceptions include the Japanese Expo building in Seville (1992), FABRICA, the Benetton Research Center in Treviso, Italy (1992), the Vitra Seminar House in Basel (1993) and the Meditation Space for UNESCO in Paris (1995). But it is in his Japanese buildings that traditional forms and shapes have been most perfectly married to the modern materials of concrete, steel and glass.


Ando has won just about every other international award including: the Carlsberg Architectural Prize (Denmark) 1992; the Pritzker Architecture Prize (USA) 1995; Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) 1995; the Praemium Imperiale (Japan) 1996; the AIA Gold Medal (USA) 2002 and the UIA Gold Medal (2005).


'Ando has emerged as something of a creative rebel in his own country although clearly respected as a thoughtful and cultured artist. To the rest of the world he is an architectural hero.'
The Royal Gold Medal jury's official citation read as follows: 'An Ando building, whether large or small, is instantly recognisable yet eminently individual. In a world dominated by consumerism Ando seeks solace through his architecture in the rediscovery of new relationships between space and light, modern finishes and man and nature.

Vitra Seminar House, Weil am Rhein

Designer: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
Copyright: Julian Osley/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (2006)


Nowhere is this better seen than in the beautiful and poignant religious buildings he created on Mount Roko (1985-6) near Kobe, the Chapel on the Water (1985-9) at Tomamu and the more urban but equally poetic Church of the Light (1987-9) in a quiet residential suburb of Osaka. He is called a minimalist although there is nothing simple about the man.'