softened daylight through garden and veranda had
defined the gentle sensibility of his home country. In
contrast, the one clear, central cut-out in the Pantheon
ceiling represents a dramatic gesture which strives for
maximum brightness. The building is flooded with
light, and glare is unavoidable.
Transferring the ancient geometry directly to his own
architecture may have been out of the question, but
the idea of introducing a more dramatic atmosphere
has influenced numerous projects from museums
to temples. The renowned Church of the Light in
Ibaraki, Osaka (1989), might not directly reach out
to the sky like the Pantheon, but it manifests Ando’s
desire to confront light and shadow in a strong way –
very uncommon for traditional Japanese architecture.
He achieves a comparable divergence with the
cross-shaped slots at the back wall of the sanctuary.
Originally, he would have preferred to leave the glass
out of the opening – which would have intensified
the link to the Pantheon – but climatic conditions in
winter made this unacceptable to the church.
The prominent image of the Pantheon reappears later
for the Hill of the Buddha at the Makomanai Takino
Cemetery in Sapporo (2017). When approaching the
end of the tunnel leading to the rotunda, the oculus
turns into an impressive halo for the head of Buddha,
showing the skilful composition of various brightness
levels, space and vistas. The blue sky encircles and
transcends the massive white statue.
The cool, grey concrete for walls, ceilings and
floors constructs an intense homogeneity in Ando’s
architecture. Thanks to this consequent language he
has achieved an independence from the bright white
cubes of modern Western architecture.
The British architect, critic and academic Kenneth
Frampton points out that in Ando’s small courtyard
houses, often set within dense urban fabric, he employs
concrete in such a way as to stress the taut homogeneity
of its surface rather than its weight, since for him it is
the most suitable material ‘for realising surface created
by rays of sunlight ... (where) walls become abstract,
are negated, and approach the ultimate limit of ▼
The renowned Church of the
Light in Ibaraki, Osaka (1989),
does not directly reach out
to the sky like the Pantheon
but ‘manifests Ando’s desire
to confront light and shadow
in a strong way’