Author Topic: Tadao Ando UIA Gold Medal  (Read 3544 times)

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Tadao Ando UIA Gold Medal
« on: June 10, 2005, 10:21:26 AM »
The International Union of Architects (UIA)  has announced that the distinguished Japanese architect Tadao Ando will receive the UIA 2005 Gold Medal. This prestigious honor is awarded to living architects for contributions made throughout their careers in service to humanity, society, and the promotion of the art of architecture.

In announcing the award, the UIA jury commented: "His mastery of construction materials — reinforced concrete to which he gives a silky touch, wood which he uses with virtuosity, glass, water, light, — makes him an inspired master of architectural construction and design. The imprint of his expertise and his lyricism may be witnessed in private houses, temples, and museums, as well as in ambitious programs like the renovation of Kobe or vast cultural complexes in the United States."  

Ando was born in Osaka, in 1941. He was self-educated, and absorbed a knowledge of architecture by traveling around the world, especially in Japan, Europe, the United States, and Africa. He discovered and became fascinated by the work of Le Corbusier.

In 1995, Ando received the prestigious Pritzker Prize and in 2002, a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects. Today, in addition to his architectural practice in Osaka, he now teaches at the University of Tokyo.

In writing about Ando's Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, architecture professor Elizabeth Bollinger reports on some of the craft that goes into the architect's special touch with concrete: "He explains that the quality of this work depends not on the mix of the material itself, but rather on the formwork into which the concrete is poured. Well crafted, watertight wooden forms are essential, and Ando's forms are varnished to achieve the smooth finish."

Bollinger continues: "One mark of Ando's careful attention to detail is that he recesses all objects affixed to the walls, such as light switches, electrical outlets, and exit signs. This requires that the negative spaces to accommodate the components be accurately sized and perfectly positioned in the wooden forms before the concrete is poured. 'The Modern' exemplifies the fine work that this designer/ craftsman expects and upon which he has built his reputation."

Earlier Masterworks

One of his more notable early projects is the Azuma House in Osaka, Japan. Critic Darlene Levy describes it as "a simple, narrow concrete rectangular residence" in the city's dense, urban core. She writes: "with spaces flanking an interior courtyard, there is an attempt to return the 'contact with light, air, rain, and other natural elements' to the Japanese life-style. In addition to providing light and serving as the focal point of family life, this small court is a spatial entity that attempts to compensate for the reduced physical space."

Ando himself says of the Azuma House: "In its simple but rich spatial composition, in its expression of enclosure, and in the way light gives character to daily-life spaces, this house encapsulates an image of my architecture." Kenneth Frampton describes these principles as "creating introspective microcosms to stand against the urban chaos of the late modern world."

A later project is "Rokko Housing One," a group of 20 public housing units built into a hillside in Kobe, Japan. Gaps between the units form plazas and terraces overlooking the ocean. Ando's first public structure in the United States was the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri.

On receiving the AIA Gold Medal in 2002, Ando said: "The aim of my design is to impart rich meaning to spaces through natural elements and the many aspects of daily life. In other words, I try to relate the fixed form and compositional method to the kind of life that will be lived in the given space and to local regional society. My mainstay in selecting the solutions to these problems is my independent architectural theory ordered on the basis of a geometry of simple forms, my own ideas of life, and my emotions as a Japanese."

Since its creation, the UIA Gold Medal has been awarded to: Hassan Fathy (Egypt), Reima Pietila (Finland), Charles Correa (India), Fumihiko Maki (Japan), Rafael Moneo (Spain), Ricardo Legorreta (Mexico), and Renzo Piano (Italy), in 2002. This year's UIA jury included by Jaime Lerner (Brazil), Vassilis Sgoutas (Greece), Jean Claude Riguet (France), Donald J. Hackl (USA), Gaetan Siew (Mauritius), José Cortes Delgado (Mexico), Louise Cox (Australia), Wolf Tochtermann (Germany), and Jordi Farrando (Spain).

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