By Mutsumi Morita / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer The Church of the Light, which was built in 1989 in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, is one of the best-known works of Tadao Ando. Visitors to the current exhibition on the globally renowned architect at The National Art Center, Tokyo, now have a chance to appreciate the masterpiece through a life-size reproduction.

A cross-shaped slit in one of the walls of the replica, measuring about 6 meters wide, 18 meters deep and 7 meters tall, allows light to penetrate through, creating a solemn atmosphere.

Visits to the church are restricted because of its function as a religious facility. 


A model of the Bourse de Commerce in Paris is displayed at “Tadao Ando: Endeavors” exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo.
A model of the Bourse de Commerce in Paris is displayed at “Tadao Ando: Endeavors” exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo.

Ando is currently working on the Bourse de Commerce in Paris, a former grain exchange that is being renovated into a museum. The architect envisioned an exhibition space by inserting a 30-meter-wide concrete cylinder into the 70-meter-wide dome of the building, as if creating a nesting structure. 

Renovation does not mean restoring a building to what it used to be, according to Ando. It should mean introducing new elements to bring about a collision between old and new spaces and create a contemporary building that leads to the future, he said.

This stance dates back to 1989, when he released a proposal for a renovation project for the Nakanoshima Public Hall in Osaka. For that building, he presented the idea of setting up a new egg-shaped hall inside.

I asked Ando, the source of numerous innovative ideas, what type of architect he wants to be. In his answer, he referred to the late Minoru Murayama, an excellent pitcher for the Hanshin Tigers.

“He gave his all to his pitching, from the first inning until leaving the mound, and many fans still remember him today for that,” Ando said. “I’m also keeping an eye on how long I can continue to work to the limit. I’ll quit if I can’t do that.”

The architect underwent cancer operations in 2009 and 2014. “I have to eat slowly under the advice of my doctor. But other than that, the speed of my everyday life remains unchanged.”

Ando is still working on about 50 projects, traveling at home and abroad and giving lectures. He announced in September that he will build a children’s library in Osaka’s Nakanoshima district and donate it to the municipal government.

The master will not stop pitching at full speed anytime soon.