Master Architect, and Master of the Box, Tadao Ando Makes his Drawings Available in a Box (Of Course)

“In architecture, the framework is determined in the first sketches. The instant movement of a hand decides everything,” states world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Tadao Ando, famous for transforming graphite-colored slabs of concrete into pristine spaces full of light, air, and water. Located throughout his native Japan and around the world, Ando’s residential, commercial, religious, and museum structures derive from his singular, determined vision and his emphasis, first and foremost, on people. These spaces, after all, are for us. And now, thanks to the architect’s collaboration with amanasalto, so is a careful selection of his drawings, encased appropriately in a box of his own design, resembling one of his signature, silky-smooth concrete panels, and titled ANDO BOX The 1st Round.

Open Ando’s box—a tabletop architectural treasure—and inside find eight finely detailed platinum palladium prints and one original drawing, comprising a mini-portfolio of some of his most iconic works and proposals. One such proposal, evocatively called the Nakanoshima Urban Egg Project, exists only in the form of a drawing. It reflects his response to a call to revitalize the historical Osaka City Central Public Hall, into which he proposed inserting a deliberately and delightfully contrasting egg-shaped hall, while retaining the building’s original structure. In the drawing, the hall appears to have swallowed the egg whole, which sits incongruously inside its blocky spaces.

Among the projects in the box that have been realized is the architect’s remarkably metaphysical Church of the Light, completed in 1989. Into one side of an exquisitely spare, concrete box, Ando cut slits in the shape of a cross, allowing sunlight to pour copiously through to fill out the cross and suffuse the space of worship with its bright glow. In his hand-drawn sketch, the architect renders the church’s sublime, central geometry, with a human figure for scale. Additional drawings feature his Church on the Water and Church of the Wind. Together with the Church of the Light, they form a suite reflecting the three natural elements so central to his practice. 

When asked once to define what architecture is, Ando claimed, “Chohatsu suru hako,” or “the box that provokes.” An apt response for this master of the box, and a perfect description of the promise of ANDO BOX The 1st Round.

Karen Kedmey 

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