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[Herald Design Forum 2022] Tadao Ando highlights value of living in harmony with nature

Tadao Ando (Photo by Kinji Kanno)
Tadao Ando (Photo by Kinji Kanno)
In modern society where people try to pursue almost everything virtually, it is easy to forget that architecture can provide a space for emotional stability and inspiration, beyond its practical use.

“No matter how advanced the technology gets, humans remain ‘irrational’ and ‘imperfect’ beings who live with emotions and memories,” said Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who won the 1995 Pritzker Prize.

“I believe architecture has unchanging values that appeal to the human heart,” Ando said in an email interview with The Korea Herald ahead of next month’s Herald Design Forum 2022, where he will give an online lecture.

The internationally acclaimed architect is scheduled to speak about his philosophy and thoughts on architecture -- how to coexist with nature and how to leave a sustainable society as a legacy to the next generation -- under the theme of “Life full of dreams and architecture.”

A view of Rokko Housing in Hyogo prefecture, Japan (Photo by Mitsuo Matsuoka)
A view of Rokko Housing in Hyogo prefecture, Japan (Photo by Mitsuo Matsuoka)

Known for an architectural style that is in harmony with nature, Ando said it is important to remind ourselves that we are living with nature on the same planet.

“When we say ‘sustainability,’ it is easy to be stuck in the idea of being creative or unique,” said Ando. “However, we should focus on the smaller scale that can be practiced and handled by an individual. It’s important to make people conscious first.”

Nature has always been an inspiration for Ando. He likens the process of designing a building to infusing life into a vacant space of air.

“To me, nature is the very origin of life and we, who are part of this nature, should pursue a life living in harmony with nature,” he said.

“So when designing a building, I imagine how the whole landscape of this site would become in the coming years after the trees, plants and flowers grow.”
 
A view of Museum San in Wonju, Gangwon Province (Museum San)
A view of Museum San in Wonju, Gangwon Province (Museum San)

Ando added that architecture should also reflect its times.

“My goal as an architect has always been to build a space that is ‘only possible there and then’ -- that can only be done in that place and that time,” said Ando.

Buildings that stand out are often public buildings that go with the times and have a great impact on people’s lives, he said.

“(The) young generation and children grow up looking and living with these buildings, so I feel that responsibility as an architect.”

Ando recalled that journeys around Europe inspired his designs because he saw them and felt them in his heart.

“When I was asked for a housing complex at Rokko, what captured me was not the flat land but the steep slope behind it,” said Ando. “The beautiful villages of Santorini and the cave houses of Cappadocia left strong impressions on my memory during my travels.”

“The past influences the present and the future, and in this continuous flow, I believe the creativity of design exists.

The Herald Design Forum 2022, with the theme of “Design Universe: Beyond the Space,” will kick off in Seoul on Sept. 27.

By Hwang Dong-hee (hwangdh@heraldcorp.com)
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