Friday, March 23, 2012



The small pavilion designed by Toyo Ito in Bruges, Belgium, was commissioned in 2002 as a "symbol of the desire for Bruges to become a contemporary city."In that year, the delightful medieval town of Belgium, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was designated as European Capital of Culture and Ito's sculpture was meant to be a link between past and future.

The pavilion in the form of a steel and glass tube is placed in the midst of a park in the site of a church destroyed in the war, next to the Burg, the impressive Town Hall square,  in the heart of the city.

Impressive Stadhuis, Bruges Town Hall, opposite the pavilion.

 Photo courtesy of Frank Van Hevel

At the time it was designed, the pavilion was located on a pond of water and a bridge allowed visitors to pass through it. The hexagonal metal texture seemed diluted by reflecting on the water, stressing the ephemeral character and the lightness that Ito seeks to convey in many of his works.

Today, however, it is very difficult to perceive these sensations. Like some of his sculptures in Japan, such as the Egg of Winds , the pavilion looks abandoned, and the pond has become a muddy puddle.

This circumstance has opened a debate on temporality and permanence.While the work was conceived as temporary with a life expectancy of one year, its enormous cost (750.000 euros) has extended his presence for a decade. If it  have been dismantled as planned, it would have been criticized as too ephemeral. On the other hand, its long presence in the urban landscape has opened a heated debate about the interaction between contemporary architecture in history.

 Moreover, its abstract nature, which contrasts aggressively with the historic environment in which it is located, and the cost of maintenance over the years, has led to many residents have called for its demolition, which I understand, has been accepted. El pabellón ha sido apodado como “el lavadero de carros del gobernador”. The pavilion has been dubbed "the governor's car wash." Others, however, stressed that this sculpture has become part of the collective memory of the city, and therefore it should be preserved.

 Photo courtesy of Brale

It seems that while I have come too late to see it in its splendor, at least I arrived in time before it disappears.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012



A building created by our hearts.
Tadao Ando's speech at the dedicational ceremony on May 14, 1989.

Today, I am deeply moved by the feeling that at last the church has been really completed because we, as builders, and the church members, as users, have been looking forward to the completion eagerly.
Looking around Osaka, many buildings have been constructed or are under construction.
In many cases, builders, carpenter, plasterers and others in the field of construction do not know what building they are making. Owners of buildings just think about why economic results or how they can make money. People leaving close to construction sites aren't just hoping to recover silence of their area after constructions will finish.

They are not expecting how they are going to utilize  buildings. Many buildings are completed without celebration by builders or people close to them.
However, construction of this building was tough.
At the beginning, Mr. H. Miyamoto and Minister Karukome came to our office to commission us for a design. They explained about the conditions. First, they had incredibly limited funds at hand. Second, they wanted to build a new Chapel in addition to that existing wooden building which they were using as a church at that time. After I heard their explanation about the conditions, I said that it would be impossible to realize this plan. I thought that it would not be completed to the end. The more I met them and they send to their plan, the more I felt desperate. But I came to the conclusion that  I would challenge this very tough project because the church people's passion and eagerness gave me hope. I undertook this work knowing that there would be many difficulties.

As I anticipated, we did have many problems. The hardest one was the construction rush in that Osaka area. When we were going to finalize the design, it was a very hard to find a construction company to realise this project. One day, Mr. Ichiryu, President of the Tatsumi Construction Company, came to us and said they would undertake this construction, because it would be highly significant to complete this building although they thought they could not make any profit on it. Since I was deeply touched by his passion, I said to him "let's make progress through hardships". 

One of the big difficulties was labour shortage in the construction field like concrete form work crafts men. Workers, on the way to our construction field, often change their mind to get another job where they could earn higher wages.
Construction was gradually behind time schedule. I thought that this chapel might be completed without any roof.
But, the church community and the people engaged in construction did not give up hope. 

At that time, I had less chance to visit the construction site and could not share their sufferings which I could easily have understood if I have met them.

Anyway, the members of our church community, the people of the construction company and Tadao Ando Architect & Associates continued to walk together looking for a glimmer of hope. Due to their hard efforts, at last the construction was completed although it was behind schedule. I have learned that were money makes the world go round, an assemblage of people's hearts put forth their strength. That is really what I should commemorate. I will keep in mind that people's hearts can break economy.

Today, I am quite delighted, but had some concern this morning. On the way to this ceremony, I became concerned about whether the church people would use this building well which our office, Mr. Ichiryu and his company people have brought up under our enduring care in a will hand over to the church people today.
However, looking over your face this year, I am now confident that you will keep  this building with even better care that we could expect and that it will improve as time goes by.
We have just given birth to it. I think that it will grow while you are using it. And, I hope that this building will help this church become indispensable to the city in 20 or 30 years.
Thank you for giving me such a great commission.
Tadao Ando


Thursday, March 8, 2012



Spillmann Eischle Arkitecten's proposal for a Freitag store, a factory of tarp-bags in Zurich, Switzerland, shows that a modern building can be made even with modest materials, considered by many as debris.

The Freitag shop, specialized in tarp bags, is located near a major highway and the main railway line  in Zurich, in an abandoned industrial plot.

In 2006 the architects proposed to reuse a group of 17 industrial containers to shape this unusual proposal. 
The containers were brought from Hamburg and assembled with industrial elements. Aside of their rusty appearance, the community has contributed with numerous graffiti.

The building sits on a concrete base, some distance away from the avenue and is composed of two areas, the customer service, a double height area comprised of 4 x 2 containers, and which exhibits several products, such as protectors for cell phones.

Contiguous to this, stands a tower where different models of bags are stored and displayed. The tower is accessed via an internal staircase.

The large windows on one side of the facade and the mirrors located inside, generate a sensation  of spaciousness in this narrow space, in addition to the play of light and space in the stairways.

 Externally, the tower is an iconic landmark not only for the industrial character of its composition, but for the environmental message that the company wanted to convey: both its products and its flagship store use of recycled materials to deliver ingenuity and functionality .