“As architecture encounters various phenomena, it activates dialogues. It is these dialogues that speak to people's souls. How can i shape these dialogues to be more fundamental and more fruitful? There is no single answer to this question as every project has its own unique context. This is what makes architecture challenging. This is why it is fun." - Tadao Ando
Celebrated Japanese architect and 1995 Pritzker Prize winner, Tadao Ando, is best known for his equanimous language of architecture, evident in his works such as the Church of Light, Oval at Benesse Art Museum and Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art, amongst others. His designs are venerated as artfully minimal with simple geometries, exposed concrete co-existing firmly with nature, and above all, profoundly contemporary.
An exhibition documenting Ando’s architectural works was on display at Armani/Silos in Milan, during Milan Design Week this year. Titled The Challenge, this show marked the first exhibition at the eponymous fashion brand’s gallery and event space, which is purely dedicated to architecture.
The Challenge traces Ando’s meandering journey in design – from his dubious beginnings in architecture to his established pieces of design that the world has come to revere and learn from. As bewildering as it is to fathom, Ando was never trained as an architect. His distinguished style of amalgamating Japanese traditions with contemporary architecture is reflective of his process of self-education and being inspired by the works of other chief architects, such as the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.
Day in and day out, I have thrown myself into the struggle between ideals and reality while dreaming up architecture for the unseen future. And still today, after half a century, I remain eager to continue tackling the endless challenge of creating architecture. – Tadao Ando
Designed by Tadao Ando in collaboration with Centre Pompidou, the exhibition follows Ando’s career, represented by over 50 projects, and illustrated with sketches, detailed mock-ups of his works, original models, technical drawings, video installations, travel notes and photographs captured by Ando himself. The exhibition was centered around four core themes: Primitive Shapes of Space, An Urban Challenge, Landscape Genesis, and Dialogues with History.
Sharing an affinity for minimalism and understated aesthetic, Armani and Ando also collaborated in 2001, as Armani entrusted the design and development of Armani/Teatro in Milan, to Ando. The plans of Armani/Teatro were on display for the first time at this exhibition, along with his other significant works, from Row House in Sumiyoshi – Azuma House (1976), to Project in Naoshima (1988 to today) and La Bourse de Commerce in Paris (2019), exploring and showcasing his design and creative ideologies.
“This exhibition is staged to showcase Tadao Ando's way of thinking and the constraints of his method: the way he expresses ties between East and West, between modernity and ancient tradition, and between the very physical reality of a sturdy material like cement and the more ethereal realm of the spirit. Tadao Ando has chosen a clear path that leads to the simplicity of perfection - a path to which I am proud to have contributed,” said Giorgio Armani
The Challenge showcased and rightfully celebrated Ando’s purposeful career, displaying his sense of a collaborating nature with design, working with light and water as design elements, and his creative process.