10 years have passed since the “National Art Center, Tokyo” in Roppongi has opened its doors. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, the museum has a lot of spectacular special exhibitions going on. It’s worth to look into the museum’s program. One of the exhibitions is focussing on the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. As a big architecture fan, I had to check this exhibition out ASAP!
An architect is born
The chance that you have already seen a building designed by Ando is high. In Tokyo, some of his works are “Omotesando Hills” in Harajuku, the futuristic subway station building of the Tōyoko line in Shibuya and the art museum “21_21 DESIGN SIGHT” in Roppongi. The “Pulitzer Arts Foundation” in St. Louis, Missouri, the “Shanghai Poly Grand Theater” in China, the “Museum SAN” in Korea and many other buildings worldwide are also part of his works. It is a big surprise to learn that the internationally acclaimed architect Tadao Ando didn’t study architecture: he is self-taught.
TADAO ANDO: ENDEAVORS
When you enter the exhibition room, you will first see a replica of Tadao Ando’s office in its original size. The next room has photos, illustrations, and models of the houses, designed by Tadao Ando especially at the beginning of his career. Looking at his works, you’ll find some similarities. The characteristics of Ando’s houses are: “concrete”, “simplistic, geometric lines” and “not a practical design for everyday life”. There are places or gimmicks in his houses, which make everyday life more difficult for the inhabitants – for example, the heating doesn’t work very well in some houses. Letters written by the inhabitants tell how it’s like to live in an Ando-house. They write that living in the houses isn’t always very comfortable. However, some householders already live in their Ando house for over 25 years. The outstanding design and the structure of houses make each house interesting. Even after living there for decades, it never gets boring. That’s why the residents are happy to accept small inconveniences. The minimalist houses are actually very charming!
Tadao Ando makes no compromises. The exhibition shows how he once secretly planted new trees in a neighboring park next to his construction site so that the view would be better. And once, he changed the design in favor of an old tree, changing the design by breaking the clean lines. I guess that’s why the homeowners love his work, They feel Ando’s passion.
A place where everyone is quiet
The highlight of this exhibition is the “Church of the Light” in the outdoor exhibition. This church is the original replica of a church in Osaka. Since it is not a real church, fortunately, you can not disturb anyone if you want to look at the architecture in peace. You can also take photos – unlike in the exhibition! When you enter the church, the first thing they hear is a symphony of smartphone triggering noises. But oddly enough, nobody speaks, including those who come in groups. It is very calm.
The only light source in the dark church is the light that falls through the simple, cruciform window. Sharp lines are drawn by the light on the walls – changing depending on the time of day. This simplicity has something divine. Maybe that’s the reason why everybody gets silent.
Architecture now and in the future
Completely overwhelmed by the church I thought the exhibition would soon be over. I was wrong! I had just seen half of it! With models of buildings everywhere, there was a large exhibition hall with already built buildings and buildings under construction by Tadao Ando. What I enjoyed the most were the models of designs that Ando had created for architectural competitions that have never been built. For example, there is Ando’s design for the “Ground Zero” in New York. It’s interesting to see and think about how the Ground Zero could have looked like if Ando had built it.
The exhibition is also very popular with tourists -, especially from Asia. This is also due to the fact that Tadao Ando is now successful all over the world (there are explanations in English and Korean throughout the exhibition).
Would you like to be immersed in Tadao Ando’s world? Hurry up! The great exhibition runs until mid-December!
10th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo
Address: The National Art Center, Tokyo (7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Admission: 1500 Yen
Date: September 27 (Wed.)-December 18 (Mon.), 2017
Closed on Tuesdays
Hours: 10:00-18:00, 10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
The National Art Center, Tokyo Exhibition Homepage: