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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Churches
  4. Japan
  5. Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
  6. 1999
  7. AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando
AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando, © Naoya Fujii
© Naoya Fujii

© Naoya Fujii © Antje Verena © Naoya Fujii via Wikipedia +9

  • Architects

  • Location

    Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan
  • Architect

    Tadao Ando
  • References

    galinsky.com, wikiarquitectura.com, ando.tableseven.org
  • Project Year

    1999
  • Photographs

    Naoya Fujii, Antje Verena, via Wikipedia

From the architect. In the small town of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka, Japan, stands one of Tadao Ando’s signature architectural works, the Church of the Light.  The Church of the Light embraces Ando’s philosophical framework between nature and architecture through the way in which light can define and create new spatial perceptions equally, if not more so, as that of his concrete structures.  Completed in 1989, the Church of the Light was a renovation to an existing Christian compound in Ibaraki.  The new church was the first phase to a complete redesign of the site – later completed in 1999 – under Ando’s design aesthetic.

© Naoya Fujii
© Naoya Fujii

For Ando, the Church of Light is an architecture of duality – the dual nature of existence – solid/void, light/dark, stark/serene.  The coexisting differences leave the church void of any, and all, ornament creating a pure, unadorned space.  The intersection of light and solid raises the occupants awareness of the spiritual and secular within themselves.

© Antje Verena
© Antje Verena

The employment of simplistic materials reinforces the duality of the space; the concrete structure removes any distinction of traditional Christian motifs and aesthetic.  Besides an extruded cross from the east facing façade, the church is composed of a concrete shell; the concrete adds to the darkness of the church by creating a more humble, meditative place of worship. As a testament to minimalist architecture, the crosses void in the east facing wall is the only prominent religious symbol present in the church.

© Naoya Fujii
© Naoya Fujii

Formally, Ando’s Church of the Light is minimalist and reductive of religious paraphernalia to a simple cruciform extrusion, which is often criticized as disturbingly empty, void, and undefined.  Although it has been stated to be nothing more than six walls and a roof, there is a whole level of design aesthetic implemented by Ando and his contractors that is misread and unrecognized by the occupants. 

As a modern, minimalist structure the Church of the Light emits an architectural purity that is found in the details.  The reinforced concrete volume is void of any and all ornament that is not part of the construction process.  The seams and joints of the concrete are built with precision and care by master Japanese carpenters, along with Ando, that have worked to create an immaculately smooth surface and accurately aligned joints.  So much so, that the seams of the concrete formwork align perfectly with the crosses extrusion on the east side of the church.

drawings
drawings

The concrete construction is a reinforcement of Ando’s principal focus on simplicity and minimalist aesthetic; however, the way in which the concrete is poured and formed gives the concrete a luminous quality when exposed to natural light.  Ando’s decision to place the cross on the east façade allows for light to pour into the space throughout the early morning and into the day, which has a dematerializing effect on the interior concrete walls transforming the dark volume into an illuminated box. Ando’s approach to light and concrete in the Church of the Light, as well as his other projects, has a surreal effect that perceptually changes material into immaterial, dark into light, light into space.

via Wikipedia
via Wikipedia

“In all my works, light is an important controlling factor.  I create enclosed spaces mainly by means of thick concrete walls.  The primary reason is to create a place for the individual, a zone for oneself within society. When the external factors of a city's environment require the wall to be without openings, the interior must be especially full and satisfying.” –Tadao Ando

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Andrew Kroll. "AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando" 06 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/101260/ad-classics-church-of-the-light-tadao-ando/>
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52 Comments

ashley · March 28, 2015

classic design, ando's really an inspiring architect!!!!!!!!!!!

Free Voice · October 28, 2014

Does anybody know if it was Tadao Ando who designed the church on the private Greek island of Spetsopoula, belonging to the Niarchos family?

Asbjörn Andresen · March 31, 2014

Design,

Nina Parker · December 26, 2013

I am fascinated by the work of Tadao Ando and I would really love to visit the Church of Light sometime in the near future, to experience it myself. His buildings gives me a feeling of peace, calmness and silence unlike any other.

Nicole Leuning · November 08, 2013

To visit the Church:
From JR Osaka station take the JR line towards Kyoto to JR Ibaraki station (13 minutes).
Buses to the Church depart from the terminal to the north of Ibaraki station. Stay at the upper level of the station, take the bridge on your right to the bus terminal then walk down the steps to bus stop number 2. Catch the Kintetsu loop buses number 1 or 2. Get off at Kasugaoka-koen bus stop (10 minute ride). The Church is located about 100m to the northwest.
The buses run on a loop so go back to the same bus stop to return to Ibaraki station.

Daniel Rocha Pimentel · October 18, 2013

BEAUTIFULL USE OF LIGHT AND VOLUMES.

Kendra Janikula · November 29, 2012

The way that Ando decided to use modern architecture principals in this project is what I think makes it such a profound project. As the interior shots show, during the day the light coming in through the cuts in the concrete construction illuminate the materiality of the inside in a dramatic contrast of light and dark. It's also interesting that he is celebrating the construction process of the structure by showing the bare slabs free of ornament besides that of the formwork.

Priscilla Marchetto · December 27, 2011

Este projeto sempre me emociona, não importa quantas vezes eu já o tenha visto > Church of the Light > Tadao Ando > http://t.co/f9nZ7TAg

Emily Lim · September 30, 2011

Would like to say a prayer here.. one day. Church of the Light / Tadao Ando | ArchDaily http://t.co/mtTjEe5e via @archdaily

Gergely Szabó · March 06, 2011

Tadao Ando classics v.2 - Church of the Light http://is.gd/9Frne4

Liz Arnold · February 21, 2011

Churches freak me out, and I wish more were as minimal as Tadao Ando&#39s Church of Light http://bit.ly/eDvaWq Sometimes I&#39m Japanese.

nulla · January 23, 2011

This is Architecture!

Tom Corlett · January 22, 2011

I just bought the book called 'Ando'. So many inspiring buildings in there! this man truly is a master of architecture.

Sergio Yamaguti · January 09, 2011

Church of light http://bit.ly/eSBfGa

Grazia Design · January 08, 2011

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando | ArchDaily http://t.co/yc87am7 via @archdaily

blogs of the world · January 08, 2011

In the small town of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka, Japan, stands one of Tadao Ando&#39s sig... http://reduce.li/71ixgy #church

Lina Mahmoud · January 08, 2011

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Jennifer Hammell · January 08, 2011

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando | ArchDaily http://t.co/duNN1rA via @archdaily - striking, elegant simplicity in design!

Mateus Cechinel · January 08, 2011

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I, Architect. · January 08, 2011

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André Amaral · January 07, 2011

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daqb design · January 07, 2011

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fyer · January 07, 2011

http://www.archdaily.com/10126... Church of the Light / Tadao Ando

JU · January 07, 2011

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Vincent Beneche · January 07, 2011

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SilentBee · January 07, 2011

Always beautiful, but who put the organ at the back? RT @fotofacade AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando http://pulsene.ws/FoAI

Andy Marshall · January 07, 2011

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando http://pulsene.ws/FoAI #architecture

Sabrina W · January 07, 2011

I love Mr Ando (work)

tuttibubulonis · January 07, 2011

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando: © Naoya Fujii In the small town of Ibaraki… http://goo.gl/fb/KmPIV

huisno1 · January 07, 2011

I love it, thanks!!!

Shawn · January 07, 2011

After going there to check out the building myself last year

I have to say there is a wonderfully warm sense of materiality that most photos don't convey.

Solemn yes, but in its context and also composition very humanist and welcoming even.

DEZIGN · January 07, 2011

AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando: © Naoya FujiiIn the small town of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka,... http://bit.ly/eAq5e7

Jade Jiang (??? ) · January 07, 2011

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Scott @ Cube Studio · January 07, 2011

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rainsea · January 07, 2011

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Willard Williams · January 07, 2011

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Erik Joya · January 07, 2011

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Architecture+Molding · January 07, 2011

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Barry Maguire · January 07, 2011

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arch_related · January 07, 2011

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Bocetos Digitales · January 07, 2011

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