Salone del Mobile Milano

Tadao Ando, The Challenge

The Centre Pompidou is devoting a major retrospective exhibition to the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, a key figure in contemporary architecture. The exhibition explores his creative principles, such as use of smooth concrete, the pre-eminence of simple geometric volumes and the integration of natural components such as light and water into his spatial designs, as well as the importance he gives to the intensity of the physical experience engendered by his architecture.

Fascinated by architecture, Tadao Ando abandoned professional boxing and set out on an initiatory tour of the world to learn about his passion. In 1969, he created his own agency in Osaka, where he produced sober, clean-lined designs that went against the 1970s trend for technological architecture. Tadao Ando has received numerous prizes and international awards, including the prestigious US Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1995. Over 300 projects have been listed all over the world throughout his fifty-year career.

This retrospective looks back at the different periods in his career as an architect and sheds light on his decisive achievements: the Azuma House in Sumiyoshi (1976), Naoshima (1988 to the present day), the Church of Light (1989) and La Bourse de Commerce in Paris (autumn 2019) are some of the major projects presented in a staging designed by Tadao Ando, produced in collaboration with his agency. The exhibition will present around 50 major projects with 180 drawings, 70 original models and numerous slide shows, all divided into four main themes: the basic form of space; the urban challenge; the origins of landscape; the dialogue with history.

The central section of the exhibition will feature a major installation: «Naoshima», a work representative of the architect’s dialogue with the natural landscapes of Naoshima Island. Since 1987, Tadao Ando has been working on this island, located in Okayama prefecture in southern Japan, on a series of projects that have completely remodelled the topography of the site to create a new environment in which the ecology of the landscape is restored. A museum of modern art, partially buried in a hill in the southern part of the island, and a rocky promontory offering a spectacular panorama over the whole site were the basis of all the works, which, rather than being created according to a plan, were devised as a dialogue between art, architecture and the land, and so are the fruits of an exchange and careful consideration of the traditional culture of the site. Tadao Ando’s projects follow a geometry directly related to the topography of the island and its contours. The architecture here is often subterranean and creates a spiritual trail, a pathway that evokes a feeling that art and nature have become intertwined.

Ando’s rich and varied achievements are rounded off by graphite drawings, travel notebooks and photographs taken by Tadao Ando himself, which have never been shown to a European public before.

Presented as part of the Japonismes 2018 show, this exhibition – ably curated by Frédéric Migayrou with the assistance of Yuki Yoshikawa and in close collaboration with Tadao Ando himself – looks back over the whole of his career via five themed sections. The exhibition, which he has entitled “the challenge”, is a humanistic message for architecture that seeks to be universal and shared by all, a message illustrated by the recreation of the façade of the Church of the Light, an iconic symbol of his work as a whole, which the architect has rebuilt in front of the big windows of the Centre Pompidou’s Galerie 3.

Tadao Ando comments: “I cannot pretend to be an objective judge of my own work. Architecture to me is the pursuit of individual solutions under specific circumstances. I design houses in particular with certain individuals in mind, and in any discussion of my design process I must include the role played by my own emotions. Leaving it to others to analyze or classify my method, I have chosen instead to use works that have been turning points in my career to retrace the route I have taken since I began my architectural activities. Although I began with the intention of dealing with matters chronologically, the result has turned out to be a fragmentary text joined together primarily in my memory. However, I believe I have succeeded in honestly expressing what I have held fast to in the course of my life”.

Tadao Ando, The Challenge
Galerie 3 - Centre Pompidou

10 Oct 2018 - 31 Dec 2018 
from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


01. Koshino House, 1981-1984 - Photo: Shinkenchiku-sha
02. Church on the Water, 1988 - Photo: Yoshio Shiratori
03. Children's Museum Hyogo, 1989 -  Photo: Tomio Ohashi
04. Benesse House Museum Naoshima, 1992 - Photo:  Kaori Ichikawa
05. Nariwa Museum, 1994 - Photo: Mitsuo Matsuoka
06. Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum, 1994 - Photo: Shinkenchiku-sha
07. Awaji Yumebutai, 1999 - Photo: Mitsuo Matsuoka
08. Sayamaike Historical Museum, 2001 - Photo: Mitsuo Matsuoka
09. Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 2001 - Photo: Shinkenchiku-sha
10. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2002 - Photo: Mitsuo Matsuoka
11. Chichu Art Museum Naoshima, 2004 - Photo: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
12. Punta della Dogana, 2009 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
13. Stone Sculpture Museum, 2010 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
14. Roberto Garza Sada Center, 2012 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
15. Ando Museum Naoshima, 2013 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
16. Shanghai Poly Theater, 2014 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
17. Hill of the Buddha, 2015 - Photo: Shigeo Ogawa
18. Liangzhu Village Cultural Art Center, 2015 - Photo: Vanke
19. Tadao Ando - Photo: Kazumi Kurigami