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Review: Tadao Ando

The architecture of Tadao Ando seeks to connect the building with its surrounding. In Tadao Ando, a book recently published by Birkhauser, author Yann Nussaume attempts to explain the work of the modernist master by placing him in the context of the world in which he's lived.

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Nussaume is an architecture writer who also teaches at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture in Paris. In the preface of Tadao Ando, he introduces his book by saying "many books have been written about [Ando's] work, but they are essentially project descriptions, accompanied by articles commenting on the trends of the moment...we seek to present in this volume Tadao Ando's objectives are they are informed by the Japanese context."

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The nine chapters of the 192-page book, complete with over 130 color photos and illustrations, span from Ando's childhood in Osaka and the Kansai region to his self-education as an architect by studying the works of great designers like Le Corbusier to his rise to prominence in the last 30 years and his works of the last decade. Nussaume describes how the dark row housing in which Ando grew up influenced his desire to create light-filled homes and how his buildings quite literally fit into their surrounding landscapes, like Rokko 1 in Kobe or the Awaji-Yumebutai Complex in Tsuna, both of which were built into the hillsides on which they were sited and step down following the slope of the land.

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The book ends by asking if Ando might be the next Corbu, the kind of architect that will inspire the next generation of designers and thinkers. According to Nussaume, he already is.

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