TADAO ANDŌ, architect “ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES"
“What drives your work?” – “One of the most significant decisions in my life was not to allow the limitations of my environment and background to hold me back. I see life as consisting of a series of walls, with more and more effort required to tear down each one.”
“Can you elaborate on that?” – “I grew up in a working-class district of Osaka, Japan, with little access to education or art. Before I became an architect, I was a professional boxer. Although I didn’t have the chance to study at a university, I had the determination necessary to roll with the punches and fought to educate myself. It was difficult, but I chose to view my situation not as a disadvantage, but as a source of motivation. That is still my attitude.”
“Where do you find your inspiration?” – “When I was a child, I would occasionally walk past construction sites. Sometimes the workers would skip lunch in their effort to make sure that the building was constructed to the very highest standards. I’m continually inspired by this kind of commitment, especially when it comes to new projects. Over the years, I have always pushed myself to design entirely new kinds of buildings. They include the Church of Light in Osaka [see photo on p.65], the Row House in Sumiyoshi, the Rokko Apartment Complex in Kobe, the artistic sites on Naoshima Island, the Punta della Dogana museum in Venice and the Bourse de Commerce in Paris.”
Tadao Andō, 76, is one of the world’s most important architects. His work is known for its minimalist aesthetic. Andō won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor, in 1995. He has taught at a number of universities and is active in environmental causes.