Japanese architect and 1995 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Tadao Ando has been announced as the recipient of the Andrée Putman Lifetime Achievement Award. Named after the late visionary French designer, the coveted honor is part of the Créateurs Design Awards (CDA) – a peer-to-peer awards program that celebrates ingenious work in the fields of interior design, design of products, architecture, photography, journalism, and curation. A jury of more than 300 members from 55 countries recognizes the winners for producing a body of work that reflects excellence in design and a practice that inspires future generations. Boxer turned architect, Tadao Ando will be rewarded at the CDA awards ceremony in Paris on January 21, 2023.
Born in 1941 in Osaka, Japan, the 81-year-old self-taught architect is often referred to as the “Master of Light” due to his exquisite craftsmanship where concrete architecture lets nature paint wild reflections within. and around its sculptural folds. Heavily inspired by Japanese simplicity and Zen concepts, Ando’s buildings focus on stillness and interiority rather than the exterior nature of architecture. An often recurring feature that ties most of his works together is the celebration of negative spaces and the idea of circulation, as Ando believes that silence and nothingness are powerful qualities that, when communicated through spaces, allow reflective thinking and allow you to experience ‘more’ with less. Architecture came his way by chance, when on a high school trip to Tokyo he came across Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and immediately fell in love with it. Less than two years after graduating from high school, the young Ando embarked on the profession of architect without formal training in the discipline. His formative training was only in the form of drawing lessons which he took in the evenings, in addition to some correspondence courses in interior design.
Today, Ando is considered one of the most powerful visionaries in the field of architecture, as someone who has served more than half a decade creating buildings that elevate the human soul. His projects, scattered around the world, including many in Japan, range from resorts, workshops, places of worship, museums and galleries, theaters and convention centers. His most notable works include the Church of Light in Ibaraki, Osaka, designed in the shape of a cross, the ethereal sculpted Water Temple in Awajishima, Hyogo, and the immersive Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, to name a few. His recent works in recent years include the private exhibition gallery, Wrightwood 659 in Chicago, and the Bourse de Commerce in Paris housing the enormous collection of objects of French billionaire art collector François Pinault. Ando, in addition to winning architecture’s highest honor in 1995, has received several international honors including the Alvar Alto Medal, Japan Art Academy Award, RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Gold AIA from the American Institute of Architects, the Kyoto Prize, and the Order of Culture from the Japanese Ministry.
Speaking of the honor of being recognized for his architectural contributions and how far he has come so far, Ando says, “France has a cultural heritage of pursuing ideas beyond the confines of an era. Revolutionary projects such as the Eiffel Tower and the Center Pompidou have sprung up in Paris, redefining the historical context of the city. The cohabitation of the genius loci, essence of a place, and the contemporary is a theme that I have always considered in my approach to architecture. In the process of designing the Bourse de Commerce with my client, the president, the mayor and the people of Paris, I could feel its manifestation in the coexistence of tradition and modernity. Culture will remain the heart of France as long as we live in search of freedom: this is the message I want to pass on to new generations. It is a great honor to receive this award for architecture from Créateurs Design Association.
The awards ceremony which will take place early next year will also recognize the winners of the 12 different categories of the Creators Design Awards divided between Architecture, Interior Design, Design and Art & Culture.