The Transparent Logic of Tadeo Ando

The Transparent Logic of Tadeo Ando

Tadeo Ando holds a high regard for the spiritual aspect of architecture. In order to bridge the gap between humans and nature, he creates architectural thresholds through his designs. With proper utilization of Ando’s theory, the author of this piece, Ut Tang Lau, describes how the balance between the physical and spiritual elements of architecture can be achieved.

Author- Ut Tang Lau

Editor- Yetunde Obasade

Known for his minimalist approach and warm, humane style of architecture, Tadao Ando is one of the most influential architects in Contemporary Architectural history. His style of work reflects his idea on “architectural thought (being) supported by abstract logic.” Abstraction to Ando is a “meditative exploration,” that is full of richness and complexities of the world, rather than a mere reduction of the actual concept. In his opinion, the intentions of the postmodernist movement are a step in the right direction, despite the deteriorating culture of modernism. Nonetheless, he conveyed that most postmodern architecture focuses largely on the physical representation of forms from the past, thus resulting in confusion rather than inspiration.  Similar to Christian Norberg-Schulz’s idea of the Genius Loci, Ando argued for a “transparent logic,” approach to design that captures the natural spirits of the constructed sites. This design approach does not overpower the essence of the existing landscape, but rather embraces it.

When it comes to the connection and relationship between architecture and nature, Ando’s transparent logic distinguishes itself from most Western theorists due to the Japanese approach emphasizing the spiritual threshold between buildings and nature, rather than a physical boundary in Western culture. Eastern culture deeply stresses the interrelationship of humanity and nature, and sees these natural elements– water, wind, light, and sky – as the ideological inspirations in architecture. Traditional Japanese architecture often has space that blurs the threshold between indoors and outdoors. An Engawa, for example is a porch like space that is usually screened, raised, or lowered. It offers the dual functions of both spatial transition and weather protection.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth- Liao Yusheng

With most of Ando’s well-known work being museums and churches, his humanistic attitude with architecture can be better displayed through his residential projects, such as the Row House in Suniyoshi, Japan. Ando kept the original spatial organization of the house as a basis of his design, and he reconstructed the wood framed house out of concrete. There are three sections, with the middle being a courtyard which is open to the sky. At times, concrete itself can give off a cold, unnatural feeling, however in the hands of Tadao Ando, the concrete is not just an array of static boxes.  Due to the balance between the austerity of simple geometric forms and human life , the space becomes animated and homogeneous with nature.


Row House
Row House – Hiromitsu Morimoto

In Ando’s view, humanity belongs to nature, therefore humans are fully dwelling when they are in architecture that incorporates elements of the natural environment. In his essay “Towards New Horizons in Architecture,” he urges that even though natural scenery has drastically changed in recent decades, architects should still design architecture in tandem with the Eastern views of spirit and nature.



[1] “Architecture, Nature, and the Constructed Site.” Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: an Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965-1995, by Kate Nesbitt, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.

[2] Row House. Hiromitsu Morimoto, CC BY-NC 2.0.

[3] The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Liao Yusheng, “Flashback: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth / Tadao Ando Architect & Associates” March, 2012. ArchDaily.



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