Top 10 Architects: Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava, Tadao Ando, Cesar Pelli and more

Tadao Ando
Text by Sean Ballent


As Japan recovered from the war, Tadao Ando spent most of his time outdoors, in the streets of Osaka. When he was 14 years old, he helped a crew of carpenters do an extension on his family’s house. It was then that one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects fell in love with the craft, building countless models of airplanes and ships. As a young child, he watched how trees grew and sunlight altered the qualities of the lumber. After visiting temples and shrines in Kyoto and Nara and studying traditional Japanese architecture, he came to understand the absolute balance between form and the material from which it is made. “I was never a good student. I always preferred learning things on my own outside of class,” Tadao explains. Traveling to Europe and the U.S., he analyzed the Western world’s greatest buildings by keeping a detailed sketchbook, storing his ideas and possibly his future works. It was here that he began to form his own ideas about architectural design, before founding Tadao Ando Architect & Associates in Osaka in 1969. Some of his significant works include his Row House in Sumiyoshi, a small two-story, cast-in-place concrete house, and his housing complex at Rokko, just outside Kobe, a complex warren of terraces, balconies, atriums, and shafts. Ando’s creative works have not only gained him every major Japanese architecture award but also the world-renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize, which he won due to his artistic and intellectual sensitivity and his ability to produce buildings large and small that both serve and inspire. “I hope that my architecture dialogues with those who experience it can renew their sense of values. I always try to create an architecture where people can discover something new,” he explains.