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Concrete Architecture of Eternity Imbued with Light: ‘Tadao Ando – Youth’

exhibition Kim Jia Apr 27, 2023

SPACE May 2023 (No. 666)


 Bourse de Commerce (2021) / ⓒYuji ONO

​Model of Row House in Sumiyoshi (1975) / Image courtesy of Tadao Ando Architect & Associates

The architect Ando Tadao’s first ever solo exhibition in Korea opened at Museum San on Apr. 1. This is the seventh location on an international tour of his work, after stops in Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei, and the first to be held in a space he designed himself. Museum San was designed by Ando after being commissioned by the late Hansol Group advisor Lee Inhee and opened in 2013, and which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Born in Osaka in 1941, Ando is a self-taught architect who began his career in 1969, and was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995. He has formed a distinctive architectural vocabulary, working with exposed concrete in geometric shapes to admit light and atmospheric conditions. The four part exhibition features 250 works, including original drawings and sketches, videos, and models, that span the last five decades of Ando’s work. Part 1 explores the first half-century of Ando’s work, from 1969 to the mid-1990s. Through a series of projects developed around the Urban Guerrilla House, the audience see the ways in which the elements of light and geometry have become part of his architectural vocabulary. His famous work, Row House in Sumiyoshi (1975), was built on a densely populated site in Osaka, dividing the land into thirds to allow light and breeze into the centre. The solid concrete exterior may appear to be enclosed, but it conveys his philosophy of creating a breathing space in urban housing. In parts two and three, the exhibition explores the theme of public space and how Ando’s architecture has changed the urban landscape. Spanning three decades, from the late 1980s to the present, Projects in Naoshima (1988-) is Ando's initiative to revitalise a neglected small island in the Seto Inland Sea as an island for nature and art. It was not based on a master plan. The island’s topography and contours were preserved, and the buildings were designed according to the situation and expanded in stages. To date, a total of eight projects have been completed, illustrating Ando’s belief that architecture goes beyond buildings to create new places. Finally, Part 4 introduces renovation projects that reimagine historical buildings. In Bourse de Commerce (2021), a former grain exchange in Paris converted into an art museum, Ando creates a dialectic between tradition and modernity by inserting a 10-meter-high, 30-meter-diameter concrete cylinder inside the building. Encompassing a wide range of works, including those from Korea, the exhibition offers a cohesive vision that resonates with the space and leaves a lasting impression. The title of the exhibition, inspired by Samuel Ullman’s poem, ‘Youth is not about who is old or who is young, it is about having a dream,’ is also a clue to understanding his career trajectory and creative journey. The exhibition runs until July 30. by Kim Jia