Tadao Ando is one of the best-known and most influential architects of the contemporary age. His work is unmistakably spiritual, even for a nonbeliever. Heavily influenced by Japanese traditions and primarily interested in using concrete as a building material, Ando leverages simplicity in order to make it easy for people to experience the spirit and beauty of nature, leaving out ornament in favor of emphasizing the buildings’ surroundings and embeddedness with the natural world. To Ando, sunlight, wind, and rain are expressions of the natural world, and geometry is also part of the underlying reality of life.
Philip Jodidio provides insight into Ando’s unique way of envisioning spiritual spaces, which intermingle simplicity with mystery, rationality with wild nature. The volume features thirteen places in depth, many for the first time in glorious full-color—from the Hill of the Buddha in Sapporo, Japan, which is surrounded by thousands of lavender plants, to the Meditation Space in Paris, where one can pause for a moment of quiet reflection. The Church of the Light is marked only by a cruciform opening that leaves the spectator to contemplate the qualities of form, light, and space. At the Water Temple, an elliptical lotus pond appears behind a curved wall, and a narrow flight of stairs in the middle of the pond leads down to the inner sanctum. As Ando writes in his preface, the book reflects his lifelong study of spaces for worship, where people gather, and it represents a special period in his life where he has become more focused on his spiritual work.