Architect ‘hurls’ his ideas at the world

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Architect ‘hurls’ his ideas at the world

“Art is the portrayal of freedom. That freedom must be expressed in architectural design,” said Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
Mr. Ando was chosen to design the Phoenix Park Resort complex on Jeju Island, which is being developed by Bokwang Co. The resort is a 400 billion won ($400 million) project that will include housing facilities, a museum and exhibition room.
The internationally renowned architect joined the project early this year, according to Bokwang, and he will present a master plan later this year. The first stage of construction is slated to be completed by 2007.
While on a visit to Korea, Mr. Ando gave a lecture Tuesday at the COEX in southern Seoul in which he spoke about how he became an architect and the factors he considers important about the field.
“When I started architecture in 1969, I went around making proposals to the government to create more green space, such as building rooftop gardens. My proposals were rejected several times, but I kept going back with new ideas,” he said. “If you want to be an architect, you have to have patience and the courage to break the rules.”
Mr. Ando, 64, was born in Osaka, where he still has his office. He has won numerous awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995. His main works are mostly in Japan, including the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Okayama, Church of the Light in Osaka and the Water Temple in Hyogo. He is especially known for using unfinished reinforced concrete and glass in simple, geometric designs.
He is a self-taught architect with no degree or professional training in architecture. “When I was 24, I traveled extensively in Europe and Africa and was inspired by great works. Because I did not receive a formal education at a university, I have always been uneasy throughout my career, but did my best to show the world new possibilities through architecture,” Mr. Ando said.
He was also a professional boxer, and compared boxing to designing. “The game of design is discovering oneself and then finding the perfect opportunity to fulfill it. An architect has to rely on himself and hurl his ideas at the world,” he said.
Using slides, Mr. Ando pointed out a few of his past ideas. One showed the exterior of his Water Temple. The temple is located underground, and therefore all that was visible was a large circular pond with stairs going down into the ground.
“In my Water Temple, I didn’t make a roof but instead, made a lily pond. In the case of temples, the roof symbolizes authority, but since the temple I had designed didn’t have a roof, the monks were very displeased in the beginning,” Mr. Ando said. “Later on, however, they began to appreciate it because so many visitors came to the temple.”
He also emphasized that architecture should harmonize with nature. “Tokyo was built with priority on the economy, so there is very little green space. Also, every building has its own strong character, which makes the city look chaotic as a whole,” he said.
“I don’t believe that architecture has to ‘speak’ out. Architecture should stand quietly and be able to ‘converse’ with the light, wind and ground. When architects build structures, they must listen to the earth and exchange friendly emotions.”

by Wohn Dong-hee
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