Art in a space of light

New exhibition showcases Japanese architect Tadao Ando's visionary work.

From a truck driver to a boxer and carpenter, Tadao Ando eventually went on to design daring, jaw-dropping architecture combining Japanese minimalism with the best of modernism.

The charm of Ando, one of the world’s greatest living architects, has won him many fans around the world. 

In Shanghai, he has designed three buildings — the Aurora Museum, the Poly Grand Theater and the Shanghai International Design Center. Now his local followers can add Space of Light, a museum-cum-bookstore, to their list.

The 4,000-square-meter egg-shaped facility opened in Minhang District last month.

Now an exhibition titled “Tadao Ando: Leading” is underway featuring models of Ando’s creations, videos, manuscripts and related materials of the masterpieces he has created.

Entering the exhibition hall, visitors are greeted by a wall of Ando’s publications over the decades through various magazines, newspapers and books.

The highlight of the exhibition is a site model of Naoshima, an island with no more than 4,000 residents in the Seto Inner Sea.

Ando spent nearly 30 years on a series of buildings there, ranging from the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum to Benesse House and the Benesse Art Site, transforming the island into what Conde Neste Traveler magazine called “one of the seven places you should see next."

Visitors can view an overview of the island and the museums.

The exhibition also showcases some furniture that Ando designed, such as well-curved ergonomic chairs.

“My understanding of an art museum is a heaven to escape the hustle and bustle, where an exhausted heart can relax and be soothed,” said Ando when he agreed to design this art museum.

“Today, reading seems to be drifting away from our lives. However, it greatly changes a person and even inspires him.

“Reading evokes our curiosity, the expectation toward the unknown. I hope people would save half of their time from their mobile gadgets to read paper books.”

Ando provides the locals with a bookstore like a maze, only the towering wooden bookshelves “shelter” the readers.

It is more like a library than the familiar bookstore, where one might find a book that he is interested and sit on the ground to read in a soothing atmosphere.

Ando won the Pritzker Prize in 1995, architecture's top prize.

He is best known for culturally and climatically specific works using cast-in-place concrete, notably Buddhist temples, churches, museums and cultural facilities.

He never got to apprentice with any architect because, as he said, he was always fired for his “stubbornness and temper.”

“I think that architecture is not about making buildings but about creating space. I am always trying to reduce all the material elements as much as possible so the space itself can become rich and stimulating,” Ando once said.

“Tadao Ando: Leading”

Date: Through May 20, 10am-5pm

Venue: Space of Light

Address: 8/F, Bldg 6, 120 Hongjin Rd

Ti Gong

Tadao Ando's sketch of the Space of Light

Ti Gong

“Dream Chair” designed by Tadao Ando

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