AD Classics: Koshino House / Tadao Ando

Photo from Wikiarquitectura © Mariana

Tadao Ando’s design for the Koshino House features two parallel concrete rectangular confines. The forms are partially buried into the sloping ground of a national park and become a compositional addition to the landscape. Placed carefully as to not disrupt the pre-existing trees on the site, the structure responds to the adjacent ecosystem while the concrete forms address a more general nature through a playful manipulation of light. More about the Koshino House after the break.

© Hoiol

The northern volume consists of a two-storey height containing a double height living room, a kitchen and a dining room on the first floor with the master bedroom and a study on the second floor. The southern mass then consists of six linearly organized children’s bedrooms, a bathroom and a lobby. Connecting the two spaces is a below grade tunnel that lies beneath the exterior stairs of the courtyard.

Photo from Flick © Gonzalo Perez -

Ando used the space within the two rectangular prisms as a way to express the fundamental nature of the site. This space reveals a courtyard that drapes over and contours to the natural topography. A wide set of stairs follows the sloping land into the enclosed exterior space and allows the light that penetrates through the canopy of trees into the sunken courtyard. This self-governing space represents the fold of nature that has been bound by the conditioned structures and become synthetic.

Photo from Flick © Gonzalo Perez -

Narrow apertures have been punched through the façades adjacent to the exterior staircase and manipulate complex crossings of natural light and shadow into the interior spaces. The patterns provide the only amount of ornament to the simple rooms. Other slots are cut from various planes of the two modules to produce the same effect of complexity throughout the entire house.

Photo from Flick © Gonzalo Perez -

Four years after the original construction, Ando designed a new addition to the compound. Placed to the north of the existing structures, the new cave-like space rests within the upward sloping piece of land. The study features a bold curve in contradiction to the rectilinear organization, initiating a completely new rhythm.

Photo from Wikiarquitectura © Hoiol

Separate from the original courtyard design, the space between the addition and the original mass allows nature to remove the forms from each other. A patch of grass weaves its way between the concrete structures, while the curved wall extends from the building to define the exterior space. Similar to the other boxes, a slice of the ceiling plane along the curved wall is removed to add that bit of complexity and ornamentation to the interior; however, the curved patterns of light greatly differ from the linear patterns in the former building.

Architect: Tadao Ando
Location: , Hyogo,
Project Year: 1980-1984
References: Yukio Futagawa, WikiArchitectura
Photographs: Gonzalo PerezHoiolKazunori FujimotoMarianaSimone Catania

Cite: Metcalf, Taylor. "AD Classics: Koshino House / Tadao Ando" 25 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 15 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +6

    One of the greatest architects of all time.
    An absolute master of light and form.
    Thank-you for posting.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +5

      outdated…. :) … you are outdated with such non-sense comments.

      Built 30 years ago, and its what most architects are going for nowadays, except for zaha fans of course.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    As far as I know, this is the only residential building Ando has altered / added to after its completion, and he did so twice. First with the curved addition, and again a few years ago when the longer, one-story volume was demolished and replaced with a two-story structure on the same footprint. I can’t find pics of the newer addition online, but you can make it out on the map if you zoom in. It’s impressive that revisions over the course of 25 years can look so cohesive.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    everything is in it’s correct places, the proportion, the light control, relaxes the eyes, the oposite to the new tendency of desconstruction

    indeed some of the images are renders, others are real fotos (watch the link in the images’s credits)

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Kudos for bringing Ando up. Very nice work indeed.

    BUT thumbs down for the renders shown.
    Publishing interior renders and talking about the manipulation of light seems a little nonsense to me.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I really enjoy the expert use of light in this building. The concrete is almost creamy and acts like a giant continuous canvas for shadow play. I think if it was my house I would be tempted to keep it empty, haha.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    In researching Tadao Ando’s Koshino House, I have found that it belongs to its own unique section of modernism. Ando is an architect that I have admired for some time, mainly due to his use of the plasticity of concrete, which is reminiscent to some project done by Frank Lloyd Wright. Another fascinating feature of his work on this house is the collection of light in various places through carefully placed light slots in order to create “light sculptures”. Daylighting is a fascinating topic that forces a designer to weigh the benefits of natural light against the energy loss caused by large windows, and I believe that Ando’s strategic placing of light slots and skylights is done with a good deal of intelligence with this house design.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Tadao Ando is one of the great modernists of architectural design. Here, in the Koshino House, we can definitely see his ability to design to shape how an occupant experiences the spaces within and around the house. He relies greatly on the contrast between light and dark to intrigue the occupant, and stimulate their experience of certain spaces. The use of concrete is also an important factor, as it provides a great medium for playing with the contrasts of light and shadows. Each detail is thought out with great purpose. These details, though they may be small or simple, have a large impact in bringing interest and warmth to the seemingly cold concrete walls which envelop each space. Overall Ando does a great job in expressing modernity through design.

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