Tadao Ando is one of the most famous Japanese architects in the present world, you know. I think a lot of people know his greatest work, “Church of the Light,” but I think almost all people here don't know Ando's other great works, so I will introduce his great works, his idea of architecture and art, and his biography, and then I want all of you to know the reason why he is so famous.
First of all, I want you to know his profile. Let me introduce it. He was born in 1941 in Osaka. He seemed to be interested in art and architecture at the age of 14. After graduating high school in Osaka, he worked part-time in an office of architecture. According to the textbook, he has never been to university, and he passed the examination of architects under his own power, therefore he is self-taught. He seemed to try to study architecture very hard. He had his friend in Osaka university sending the textbook about architecture to him and he study from early in the morning to the late at the night. It is amazing these days. Now a days, most of people who graduate high school go to university, but it wasn't so common to go to university because it cost much money then. He was interested in Gutai group when he graduated from high school. Gutai group was a artistic movement and association that creates a new artistic tide, but it ceased to exist in 1972, so he was interested in Gutai group at the time when it was very active. He was concerned with the association a little bit, but not much. When he was 24, he had been to American, European, African, and Asian countries on his own. The money he spent in the journey was earned in the part-time job, so he went to the countries all by himself. Why he went to foreign countries? It was because his grandmother said “It is not good to earn money.” She meant that Tadao had to accumulate not only money but knowledge. It cost a lot of money, so she said that Tadao should have spent money to be better. But his grandmother didn't suggest the concrete examples. I think she wanted Tadao to ponder what to do, and he decided to go to foreign countries in 1965. It was very hard to go to other countries then because from the previous year, going to other countries was banned, and English was not thought so important in Japan then, therefore it was a great decision, I think. He was stunned at the vastness of the earth in the countries. He went to the countries to see many unique buildings in the countries, but he went to many natural great landmarks in the countries, too. He could see how small he was. He appreciated fully how great it was to live. He seemed to know it was valuable to study in university very hard, but he could decide to find a lot of daily pleasure, and to lead his life under his own power. After his own journey to many countries, he could feel his great growth. He established Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, and then, he was to be a great architect in the world. It was 1969, and the age of him was 28.
Second, I will introduce his great works. First, I will introduce Tomishima House. It is the oldest building he made. I think he made the greatest effort to build it because he bought the building in 1973, and now, he use Tomishima House for his office. The office is a concrete building. Second, Row House in Sumiyoshi is the work that made him very famous. It is a personal residence in Osaka. The construction space of the house was only 46 square meter, I think it is very small to construct concrete house, isn't it? He decided to make a courtyard, and he take both of Japanese and European culture in the building. He said that he wanted to construct a building that is very simple, but actually, very complicated, and it is very small, but very vast like the cosmos. He wanted to express the “abundance,” and it was very successful. There are still a lot of people who want to enter Row House in Sumiyoshi, but it is for an individual, so most of the people can't. The full-size model was exhibited in 2008 in Tokyo. Third, I will introduce Tezukayama Tower Plaza. It is a duplex, a building divided into two separate homes. It is very interesting for architects, because the reason why he made it duplex is that he wanted to take light and wind in the building from the space between two separate homes. If there were no space there, it would be very dark and windless place there. The appearance is good, too. Next, I will introduce STEP. It was an arcade. The reason why “was” is that STEP was reconstructed in 2006 regrettably, and the new STEP was built by Ando, too, but the method peculiar to Ando is not appeared in new STEP, and new STEP looks very common, less stylish than old one, so I will introduce old STEP in this speech. STEP was different from other Ando's works. Tiles and concrete were used in the construction. It is very rare combination in Ando's work. He preferred concrete and glasses, so the color of Ando's constructions should have been gray or white, but STEP was very colorful compared with his old works. There were a lot of stairwells and glasses, and like Tezukayama Tower Plaza, it was separated into two sections, therefore wind and light could come into the construction. The four buildings are very remarkable now. He made a lot of great works except those, and the constructions are widely known to many people. Being recognized by many people, he was assigned to work for the Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. I think it's suitable role, and I believe he will come up to our expectations.
By the way, although many people praise Tadao, there are a lot of people who criticize his work. Their content of criticism is that we can't feel comfortable in the buildings made of reinforced concrete and glass. It is right because concrete buildings can't keep warmth and coolness in the room. It is very hot in the summer and it is very cold in the winter. And more, the reflected heat from the sun makes the city very hot. It causes heat island, so many buildings in Tokyo are planted grasses on the roof. Heat island is a very big problem now. It tends to be appeared in concrete jungles. The people of criticism are also worried about the strength of the buildings. Exposed concrete buildings are vulnerable to get crack, and they tend to be polluted with black mold and algae. And they point out he didn't explain how to reduce danger and uncomfortableness, so critical people don't consider Ando as an architect. They regard him as an artist because the exposed concrete building is inevitable to be disadvantageous and Ando tempts to use it. They say one of the most significant efforts of architects is to reduce inconvenience and uncomfortableness. It isn't false, I think, but he is trying to build good architectures very hard and Ando says he is extremely careful about safety. There are many cases of too low budget. Almost all order is unable to be realized because of budget. A large living room, a high roof, a good sight from bath room, and so on... But, the budget is so low that it can't meet the half of the MANY functions. He is subjected to great hardships, but he could make a lot of great architectures. Artists wouldn't have a loss because of budget, probably, so I think he is a real architect.
Finally, a lot of people want to realize their dreams. Most of people say “Of course.,” I think. But, I learn that realizing dreams is not always delightful from Ando's career. It sometimes annoys us. Actually, we are having trouble in doing homework, getting up early to attend the first class in time, and so on. However, Ando is very proud of his great works. It is because he can enjoy his work, and he knows the value to be an architect. Even though his life is very different from model of life, and we can't imitate his life because it's very difficult, I think we can obtain his idea to survive this severe world. Ando could add value to architectures, and it is very innovative. We should follow his idea, and make our new world! Thank you.