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Tadao Ando despre arhitectura si locuri

Q. Why did you decide to set out on this journey in 1965 when you were twenty-four years old?

A. It all started from my desire to see first-hand European architecture, which seemed so different from the buildings of the world I lived in. And more than anything else, I greatly admired the works of Le Corbusier. Just at that time, the restrictions on traveling to different parts of the world had finally been lifted. Also, since I had no other choice but to study architecture on my own in Japan, I could only get a hold of a very limited amount of information. So you can say that I took this trip because I wanted to learn much more about architecture. That time, I was fortunate enough to come across a book of Le Corbusier's collected works in a used bookstore in Osaka. I would find the time to look through this book again and again and to trace over the careful use of space in his blueprints and drawings. At the same time, I became very interested in Le Corbusier as a person, and I was truly impressed by the fact that he taught himself ways to create a new world. As I became able to copy every drawing in the Le Corbusier book by heart, I could not help thinking, "I want to see these works with my own eyes. I want to meet Le Corbusier in person." So then, I set off on my grand tour.

Q. What did you see during your one-year journey?

A. First, I stood on the deck of the boat I took from Yokohama to Nakhodka, Russia and looked out at the horizon of the Pacific Ocean, and then, while traveling to Moscow on the Siberian Railway, I looked out the train window at the flat plains that seemed to stretch endlessly into the distance. These sights had a great impact on me. They helped me to gain a true sense of the world's vastness and the smallness of my own existence. In this respect, I must say it is a bit of a shame that these days travel has gotten so convenient that you can just get on an airplane and move from city to city in half a day. I began my walking tours of European architecture in Scandinavia. In Finland, I saw the works of Alvar Aalto. In France, I looked at the works of Le Corbusier, and in Spain, I saw the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. And then, I had the chance to see classical Italian buildings --- the source of Western architecture. Seeing Aalto works first-hand left an especially strong impression on me. I will never forget the excitement I felt standing in the large spaces of Rautatalo (iron house). Yet this trip was a very difficult time in my life.

Q. Why was it a difficult time for you?

A. I went on this trip to learn more about architecture, not to sight see. Because I set off on this journey without knowing very much about architecture, it took much physical strength for me to continue to walk around and concentrate on seeing different things. I also had to make sure I understood what I saw. At any rate, I needed to find the answer to the question, "What is so attractive about the architecture I see here?" before I could return home to Japan. Of course, I had neither teachers to guide me nor friends to talk to about this. I was left to continually ponder this architecture on my own. Since I never had the chance to attend university, even from the time I opened my own firm and to the present, this situation has not changed.

Q. And so has this spiritual journey continued?

A. Indeed, traveling to me is a spiritual journey because whenever I visit a place, I always take time to contemplate its history and culture. When I come across a new world, I ponder its meaning and look for answers to things I do not understand, I am always thinking about the next new things I will see. To me, traveling is like going to school. For example, when I look at architecture, I constantly have conversations with myself and ask myself, "If I were the architect, how would I make these structures?" In this way, I began my career as an architect, and, even in my work now, I continue to search for answers to questions like these. Thinking of architecture by myself can be a journey for me. I guess you can say that architecture is a journey. I say this because the things an architect sees inspire him to constantly think, and his search to understand what he sees takes him far and wide. In the process, he creates.

Pentru continuare vezi comentariile! Acolo, Ando discuta despre Paris, New York, Roma si Osaka.

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peromaneste spunea...

Q. How was Paris on this trip?

A. Once again, the atmosphere in Paris was agitated. This time it was because of a march to protest the gains made by the radical right at the recent primary election for the French presidency. In Japan nowadays, there is a general sense of resignation about social issues, whereas in Paris, people are still passionate about their society. There was a boy marching along holding a placard with tears streaming down his face --- it was a striking image.
It was all very orderly, and yet for me, the crowds marching in the streets and chanting slogans called to mind scenes from 34 years ago. I was remembering Paris during the May Revolution, which I stumbled into during my second trip to Europe in 1968. Needless to say, there is no comparison between the passionate demonstrations of 1968, which completely consumed the population, and this modest demonstration today. For me, having been caught up in the strange excitement and agitation of those days, and having thrown cobblestones without understanding what I was doing, Paris evokes images of the city as it was 34 years ago, occupied by angry citizens.

Q. You're working on a big museum project in Paris, aren't you?

A. There's a place where Jean-Paul Sartre delivered an important speech to the striking workers during the May Revolution. It was on Île Seguin in the Seine, where Renault, one of the three major automobile companies in France, operated a factory until 1992. For the French people, the district of Boulogne-Billancourt, where the island is located, is a stronghold of industry and a place symbolizing the labor movement. Accordingly, people have strong feelings about the area and redevelopment plans have been caught up in a circuitous process extending over more than a decade. In his anger against "poorly conceived redevelopment projects", Jean Nouvel once growled that it was "the storming of the castle of the workers". At any rate, the places' history remains a part of it.
Then, in October 2001, there was an international competition for the Fondation d'Art Contemporain Françis Pinault, which was planned as one of the new redevelopment projects for the island, and my proposal was selected for construction. One of the purposes of this trip to France is to visit the site and take part in meetings.

Q. This will be your second building in Paris, after the UNESCO Meditation Space completed in 1995, won't it?

A. Yes, it's the second project to be realized, but I have designed a number of buildings in Paris for competitions. Because these competitions ended in a series of defeats, no one pays any attention to these projects... For example, I participated in the competition for the Musée du Quai Branly, which is now under construction --- following Jean Nouvel's design --- next to the Eiffel Tower. Also, I recently designed a pedestrian bridge over the Seine between Dominique Perrault's Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Parc de Bercy. Although defeated in the end, I've learned a lot from this losing streak. For one thing, I realized that at the root of architecture and urban space in Paris is an aesthetic of symmetry...

Q. What do you mean by "symmetry"?

A. I don't mean symmetry solely in formal terms, but also in more conceptual ways, such as artificial versus natural, or a static versus a dynamic spatial sensibility. In Paris, this aesthetic permeates the entire city, from individual buildings through to the urban structure. Maybe Paris' symmetry seems all the more evident to me because I am Japanese, and grew up in the fundamentally asymmetrical Japanese cityscape, with an affinity for the natural environment...
When I first visited Paris in 1965, I was immediately shocked by the dynamic configuration of the streets. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées runs straight from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, from which a number of avenues extend radially. This magnificent aesthetic of symmetry is consistently reflected in the details of rows of ordinary buildings, and also in monumental buildings such as the Opéra completed in the nineteenth century by Charles Garnier.
What I realized through doing the competitions is that in Paris, the aesthetic of symmetry persists even in Modern and contemporary architecture, which should have denied the classical conventions and moved on to new, rational ideas. However fresh the conception of the building, the aesthetic of symmetry always emerges in the process of defining its form. This is the case with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France completed in 1995 by Dominique Perrault --- while it is very minimal and contemporary in its design and concept, its layout is perfectly symmetrical.

Q. How have you been influenced by Paris?

A. The remarkable thing about Paris is that buildings giving evidence of hundreds of years of history and traces of the traditional are infused with the lively spirit of the present day. For example, the Marais quarter in the third and fourth arrondissements, which is a historic district with venerable buildings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is located adjacent to the city's most fashionable cultural quarter around the Pompidou Center. It is precisely because the old cityscape has not stagnated but is still growing through constant exposure to new stimulants that the vitality of the city is still strong.
Politicians have also introduced new, epoch-making proposals one after the other into the city, such as the series of "Grands Projets" which started with the Pompidou Center. It was certainly a huge experiment on the city, promoted through government initiatives --- the work of President Georges Pompidou was carried forward by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, then François Mitterrand, and finally by the current president, Jacques Chirac. This experiment was a great success, and the city of Paris proclaimed its renewal to the world. In this way, France regained its international standing through cultural achievement. On the other hand, there were figures such as André Malraux, who as the Minister of Cultural Affairs under Charles de Gaulle enacted a law for the conservation of historic districts...

Q. As author of books such as La Condition Humaine, the Malraux was a unique politician known as a humanist for his involvement in the anticolonial movement in Vietnam, wasn't he?

A. The 'Malraux Law' he enacted is not designed to conserve individual historical structures, but to conserve the streetscape of whole areas of a city. While monumental buildings had been carefully restored, rows of ordinary buildings were being reduced to rubble in the name of rationalization. The Malraux Law preserves such commonplace buildings. The Marais quarter I mentioned earlier is typical of the redevelopment projects to which the Malraux Law was applied.
On this trip, I went to the Place des Vosges in Marais, which I hadn't visited in years. It was to attend the presentation ceremony of the diploma and medal of the Académie d'Architecture --- which I hadn't yet been able to accept because I was too busy (laughs) --- and to give an accompanying lecture at the Académie, which is located near the corner of the plaza. Sitting in a café in the arcade at around five in the afternoon, I could relax and look out over the plaza I hadn't seen for so long. It was as beautiful as always. People were coming and going across the plaza, while children ran around shouting in the park at its center. The brick-colored buildings in the background have not changed for centuries, accommodating the daily lives of the locals. I was truly envious of the environment. Undoubtedly, the city's memory is etched into that place.

Q. If you were to make some recommendations, what buildings should we see in Paris?

A. Since the end of the nineteenth century, European architectural space --- previously created with massive masonry construction --- has been liberated through the use of such new materials as iron, glass, and concrete, and has become lighter. I think it would be interesting to follow this process of change by looking at individual buildings.
Let's take the example of Henri Labrouste's Bibliothèque Nationale, completed in 1868. In the main reading room, nine domes supported by iron columns and lacy iron arches cover a space thirty meters square, enclosed by masonry walls. At the top of each dome is a round skylight about four meters across, through which subdued natural light pours into the space. The people of the 1860s, on first stepping into this reading room from their heavy cityscape, must have wondered at this expansive space which seems so open... Although not such a large building, this library stands alongside such glorious, monumental structures as the Eiffel Tower and the Galerie des Machines of the 1889 International Exposition in Paris, as an important structure signaling the raising of the curtain on the age of iron and glass.

Q. Speaking of glass, we hear that it is used extensively in your museum on Île Seguin.

A. In architectural history, the crowning achievement of glass architecture is the Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton for the International Exposition in London in 1851. Until that time, European architecture had small windows barely sufficient to admit light, but since the first half of the twentieth century, it has been gradually opened up through the use of steel frames, reinforced concrete, and large panes of glass.
Today, buildings which make extensive use of glass can be built relatively easily, but I want to recover the impact glass had when it was first introduced. I am using glass with this in mind. For the Fondation d'Art Contemporain François Pinault, I am considering modulating the spaces by controlling the transparency and opacity of the glass. One of the images I have in mind is of the glazed house --- located on a narrow lane near Boulevard Saint-Germain --- which is a masterpiece of Modern architecture, built in 1932 by Pierre Chareau. The house is a modern space inserted into an old masonry apartment building by hollowing out the first and the second floors. It doesn't have any windows on the façade, but instead the whole wall surface is built with glass blocks, whose translucency generates a marvelous, light-filled world.
I didn't know of it when I visited Paris in my twenties, but after I started working as an architect I visited this building on a friend's advice. I remember feeling tremendous regret for not having seen it in my twenties. Now, I plan to make use of the subdued light and obscured vision I experienced in that house, along with the sparkling water of the Seine, in the spaces of the new museum.

Q. The architecture of Tadao Ando brings to mind images of concrete...

A. After I started my own architectural office in my late twenties, I focused on concrete because of the rationality of being able to integrate interior and exterior finishes, and also its low cost. I soon became aware of the expressive possibilities of exposed concrete, and around the time that I designed the Row House in Sumiyoshi I started being careful about the way the concrete was used, including the arrangement of the formwork panels. Working on that house made me realize the toughness of this material.
Concrete is not a material that one can simply use as one pleases. People generally think that concrete is always the same, but it isn't. Even though the material is the same, its strength, durability, texture, and appearance can vary greatly depending on the circumstances, including the sensibilities of the people who create it. Le Corbusier had his own concrete, while Louis Kahn had his.

Q. It's said that the English prefer steel construction, while the French prefer concrete. Is that right?

A. That's because, after all, these countries have different histories. In Paris, for example, there is an apartment building on Rue Franklin by Auguste Perret, which is said to be the first Modern building in reinforced concrete. This building is always cited in histories of Modern architecture, and 30 years ago I also took time to seek it out. At that time, however, I couldn't really understand its importance. I was more interested in Perret's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées with its distinctive classical façade. It was only after I started to build in concrete myself that I realized his advanced position.
On this trip, I stood in front of the Rue Franklin apartment building, which I hadn't seen for a long time, and found that a new shop for a German lighting manufacturer occupied the first floor. Looking at the building again, I can better understand its significance. Behind the façade, designed in the Art Nouveau style, is a fully developed vocabulary of Modern architecture that takes full advantage of reinforced concrete --- such as a totally new type of plan, a roof garden, and the use of glass blocks to bring natural light into the stairwell. I think Perret's subsequent influence on the architectural world was perhaps even greater than Le Corbusier's.
Another of Perret's key works is the church of Notre-Dame du Raincy, which was completed in 1923 and is described as the prototype of Modern church architecture. A time consuming restoration of this building was completed several years ago, carried out under Malraux's influence. In Japan, where the ongoing scrap-and-build process changes the cityscape every decade, we seldom have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with a hundred-year-old modern building.
Ultimately, I think culture emerges from the accumulation of things. It doesn't just involve generating new things. Culture exists on an axis extending out of the past, through the present to the future. Every time I visit Paris, I'm reminded of this.

Q. What are your thoughts on New York after the events of September 11th, 2001?

A. From the rooftop of a building on 27th Street in Chelsea, I looked out over the skyscrapers of Manhattan for the first time in a long while. Spread before me was the same view as always, but it looked somehow desolate. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and drizzle was obscuring my view, but I don't think it was just because of this. The city of New York certainly seems to have changed since that day...

Q. Can you tell us about your first visit to Manhattan, and your impressions of the city at that time?

A. My first visit was in the summer of 1967. I'd spent a few months traveling by Greyhound bus from Los Angeles on the West Coast. It was a dollar-a-day trip, so I'd sometimes take a short nap at a bus stop. In this way, I got to see everyday life for Americans living in Smalltown, USA. Just as I was changing from being surprised to being bewildered by the vastness of the country, I finally arrived in New York.
The first things that caught my eye were the glittering Brooklyn Bridge with the setting sun in the background, and the powerful silhouette of the skyscrapers soaring behind the bridge. There before me was the city of New York, which I'd dreamed of and which had been burnt into my consciousness through the media. In my excitement, the first thing I did was to go up to the observatory in the Empire State Building to view the skyscrapers. At that moment, I was totally convinced that what lay before me was the masterpiece of the twentieth century.

Q. The masterpiece of the twentieth century?

A. Yes. Those skyscrapers were realized with high-rise building technology --- the elevator and fireproof steel construction --- which was developed in Chicago at the end of the nineteenth century and became universal during the twentieth century. In New York we can see skyscrapers ranging from such historic buildings as the pioneering Woolworth Building, to the Chrysler Building --- which, like the Empire State Building, entered the battle for the title of the world's tallest building --- and the Rockefeller Center, the forerunner of the multi-use urban complex. Among those crowded together behind them are the Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe, Lever House by S.O.M., and the Pan American Building by Walter Gropius. From the feast of brilliant Art Deco architecture to the masterpieces of post-war Modernism that flourished in America in the 1950s, the city's distinctive high-rise buildings thrust upwards into the sky as if asserting their presence or competing with each other. I saw in them the inexhaustible energy of human desire. I was moved by the freedom of expression and its possibilities, and I kept thinking to myself, "How different each of us is at heart."

Q. Speaking of Manhattan, the grid of city blocks is impressive.

A. When looking at Manhattan, there isn't any need for academic knowledge of urbanism. The essence of the city can be understood at a glance. On a lump of bedrock caught between the Hudson and the East Rivers, the city's 2028 blocks are marked out by streets on a regular north-south east-west grid, with Broadway cutting diagonally through this simple, abstract composition. The incongruence generated by this single diagonal line brings a human quality to this artificial layout.
This unique urban structure was created at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Another example of a similarly gridded city is San Francisco. In San Francisco, the complexity of the hilly topography results in the formation of contingent urban spaces like Market Street here and there around the city, which help to make the city more attractive. Because of the overwhelming density of Manhattan, the incongruity of Broadway slicing through the simplicity of the grid has a powerful impact.

Q. In Manhattan, what is your favorite place?

A. Rather than a favorite place, a place I find somehow energizing is Central Park. Central Park is a void boldly cut out of the middle of Manhattan, which is a microcosm of wealth and power. The park's designer was Frederick Olmsted. This extensive landscape stretches four kilometers north-south, from 59th to 110th Streets, and 800 meters east-west, from Fifth to Eighth Avenues. It includes luxuriant forests and lakes, and also serves as a cultural oasis, with a zoo, a skating rink, an open-air theater, and so on.
Central Park was deliberately planned in the mid-nineteenth century in recognition of the grave future ahead of the steadily urbanizing island. Looking at the history of cities around the world, this was a fascinating period when particularly important reforms were effected. At about the same time that Central Park was being constructed, the urban reorganization around the Ringstrasse in Vienna and the transformation of Paris by Baron Haussmann were also underway. These projects had important consequences in forming the basic frameworks of today's cities. Japan missed the opportunity to build such urban frameworks, and the ineffectiveness of post-war urban planning has allowed Japanese cities to expand chaotically. These factors have certainly resulted in the current disorder of Japan's cities.
Anyway, this vast green space still exists in New York, which stands out internationally as a hyper-modern city. Thanks to this, which I think is almost a miracle, people can really live in Manhattan.

Q. Now, please tell us about your thoughts on the future of Ground Zero. Where were you at the moment of the terrorist attack?

A. I was in Tokyo when I became aware of the attack. However, even though I saw the collapse of the World Trade Center repeatedly shown on the television, at first I couldn't take it in as real. How could the towers have collapsed so easily? What could have happened to the thousands of people who were working in the buildings? At the World Trade Center there were huge sculptures by Calder and by Masayuki Nagare... There was no way I could convince myself that it could all have been lost in an instant.
It was when I received notice that the opening of my new building in Milan, scheduled for that weekend, had been postponed, that the worldwide impact of the event came home to me. In the middle of the following month, on the way to St. Louis on business, I visited New York for the first time since the attack. Many public places were on full alert, which I had never experienced before, and this brought home to me again the extent of the damage done by the attack.

Q. You have a proposal for a memorial tomb for Ground Zero.

A. Why did such a tragedy occur? It's easy to attribute it to the breakaway of some radical Islamic fundamentalists, and to draw a diagram of the conflict between America and Islam. Indeed, the World Trade Center was a symbol of America, and at the same time, it was also a stronghold of globalizing capitalism. On the flipside of twentieth-century global modernization, the problems of religious conflict and poverty have been left unresolved... I think the explosion of these social tensions led to the destruction of the World Trade Center.
While I was standing at the site of the towers, now reduced to dust and ashes, paralyzed and speechless at the cruelty, a local journalist who had accompanied me asked, "Undoubtedly, something will be built here one day. If you were the architect, what would you want to build?" I couldn't answer immediately, but in any event I would never agree to the idea of building another skyscraper comparable to the World Trade Center. That is utter nonsense.
I left the site promising to call him when I came up with an idea, and the question was on my mind on the entire flight home. My thought was, "The mere reconstruction of an economic symbol would achieve nothing. To console and quiet the souls of the thousands of people lost, and above all, to raise the hopes of the coming generation, isn't a 'blank' open space what is needed now?" After I arrived home in Osaka, I immediately put together this proposal.

Q. While many architects have proposed symbols to take the place of the World Trade Center, your idea seems totally different.

A. It might be too "empty" for a proposal by an architect. However, it never occurred to me to consider architectural forms for the site. Concerning the dimensions of the memorial, I worked out the actual size from the radius of the equator, so that it communicates a message of globalization through dialogue rather than through economics. The resulting scheme is a gentle swelling in the ground --- which forms a part of a sphere --- 30 meters high, with a circular base over 200 meters across. Seventy thousand or more people could gather here. Of course, I doubt such a proposal would actually be accepted, but my hope was that someone discovering such a scheme might sympathize with the idea.

Q. What was it about New York that attracted you so much in your twenties?

A. Thinking about it, I suspect the breakdown of twentieth-century capitalist society was beginning in the late 1960s and the 1970s, when America became bogged down in the Vietnam War and began to suffer. In 1967, when I first went to America, Muhammad Ali was jailed for refusing to be drafted, nationwide rebellions by Afro-Americans were becoming increasingly frequent, and the movement against the Vietnam War was also intensifying.
On walking around Greenwich Village, where the members of underground cultures, dropouts, and even drug addicts gathered, it was possible that one could be mugged at any time of day. At that time, the whole city was fraught with a tension bordering on danger. However, in those tense, dark spaces in a city full of contradictions, there was undoubtedly a brilliant, breathing vitality. Take contemporary art, for example, or contemporary music, or jazz...

Q. Do you like jazz?

A. In the early 1960s, there was a jazz café called Check in Umeda, Osaka. It was a base for avant-garde art in post-war Osaka. Such greats as Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk played there during their stays in Japan.
Members of the Gutai art movement painted their works on the walls, and I've heard that Lucio Fontana once dropped in. I remember that it was at this place where I first heard about contemporary American artists like Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. In those days, in my early twenties, I would always be in the café with a cup of coffee, soaking up the modern jazz, and listening to my friends discussing avant-garde art.
Because I know I can't carry a tune, I'm careful not to talk much about music. (laughs) Nonetheless, as I constantly struggled during my twenties to create a place for myself in the darkness in Osaka, jazz music, through which the musician's emotion is expressed freely through improvisation while denying the conventions of Western classical music, resonated with me as being something very American. It was a symbol of America, a country of freedom, open to all.

Q. Do you go to jazz clubs in New York?

A. Though I haven't had time to go recently, during my stays in New York I naturally visited jazz clubs such as the Village Vanguard and the Blue Note. The live sound I heard up close was totally different from what I'd heard in the jazz café in Osaka. It sounded like shouting out for something, rather than music... That was how it felt.

Q. Do you think that contemporary art also belongs to the darkness of the city?

A. I'd say so. What we now think of as established, internationally recognized contemporary art was born there. As I was myself in my twenties... It's probably for exactly this reason that I can fully engage in projects concerned with the contemporary artists and their works, which attracted me back then.
For instance, with the Calder Museum now being built as an annex to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I have had the opportunity to talk with Anne D'Harnoncourt, the foremost authority on Marcel Duchamp. At my first meeting with her, I was quite nervous about talking to the author of the books on art which I'd read so many times. I've also been given the opportunity to collaborate with Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly on the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, as well as on the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. At Naoshima I'm also designing a place to exhibit a sculpture by Walter de Maria, the creator of The Broken Kilometer, which deeply inspired me at the gallery in SoHo in 1979.
I don't know how these artists feel about New York. Nonetheless, for me, their presence is a part of my image of New York in the late 60s. It was a place where radiant skyscrapers embodied the city's brightness, while the darkness swirling around their foundations powerfully expressed its vitality. Even now, if I am asked to name my favorite place in America, scenes from around SoHo and Tribeca come to mind. I like its edgy atmosphere, filled with possibility.

Q. New York seems to have been cleaned up now.

A. Yes, the dark corners of the city which captivated me in 1967 have totally disappeared since the "I Love NY" logo started appearing around the city. (laughs) Nonetheless, as long as people live there, some darkness will exist. Even if this darkness is dominated by overwhelming power, the city's repressed contradictions must somehow manifest themselves, perhaps explosively. I suppose this might be connected in some way with Ground Zero... Seeing the skyline without the World Trade Center, 35 years after my first visit, that is how I feel.

Q. What were your thoughts on visiting the Pantheon in Rome?

A. Almost every time I visit Rome, I come to see the Pantheon. How many times have I stood beneath that incredible light? As always, a few workers were continuing with restoration work at a relaxed pace. This building, constructed around the beginning of the second century, has passed down through history, speaking unceasingly to the human heart. Anyone who has studied architecture will probably experience this. Whenever I visit this space --- on this occasion too --- I recall the raw passion of my early years, when I had just entered the field of architecture.
When I thought about making my first trip to Europe, I made a list of buildings to visit, noting everything that caught my attention from classical Western architecture to Modern and contemporary buildings. The Pantheon was at the top of the list. Even a young man with no knowledge --- such as I was at that time --- thought that way. This indicates the special place that the Pantheon occupies in the domain of architecture.

Q. What is it about the Pantheon that makes it so appealing?

A. The first thing that everyone remarks on about the Pantheon, which contains a complete sphere of space 43 meters in diameter, is its simplicity. In other words, in the entire history of architecture it's the building with the most perfect proportions, that is, the most perfect architectural form. Also, what is appealing is the dramatic light. It pours in from the round skylight nine meters across, cut out of the top of the dome.
The history of Western architecture in masonry can be seen as the history of the challenge to create volume in interior space, and to create large openings in walls to introduce light effectively. In this respect, I think of the Pantheon as the starting point and, at the same time, as the high point of the history of the creation of space. However, apart from its architectural form and the dynamic power of the light that enters it, there is something about the Pantheon that could never be grasped through visual media such as photographs or videos, but only by visiting the place; the sublime quality of sound reverberating across the space. During one of my visits, when I was standing under that light in rapt amazement, a procession of believers came in following a priest --- probably for a mass --- and started to sing a hymn. I'll never forget the emotional power of hearing those strong, vibrant voices reverberating around the space. Through this experience, something beyond that which is visible to the eye was deeply etched into my mind. Architectural space is a phenomenon we take in not only visually but through all our senses, that is, through our whole bodies. The Pantheon made me recognize this truth, and for me, this fact alone makes the building worth visiting.

Q. Why do architects go to Italy?

A. In seventeenth and eighteenth century England, there was a custom known as the "Grand Tour," in which young aristocrats would travel around Europe for several years to cultivate themselves. This custom seems to have become an established part of the culture, not just in England but throughout European society at that time. Also, a literary genre developed around the subject of these journeys. In particular, a number of writings on traveling in Italy were produced. My favorite is Italienische Reise, written by Goethe in eighteenth-century Germany. It seems fresh every time I read it. Having been impressed by Goethe's writing, Chuji Hirayama, a Japanese photographer, followed the same route.
Naturally, architects of every era have traveled to Italy --- from Le Corbusier's "Le Voyage d'Orient" to the Grand Tour Louis Kahn took in his later years. Why Italy? Regarding this, consider Kahn's words on Rome: "I firmly realize that the architecture in Italy will remain as the inspirational source of the works of the future." In addition to the sheer geographical expanse of the Etruscan, Roman, and Renaissance civilizations, the respective historic periods of the various city-states have been folded over each other to form densely layered urban environments. I think people go to Italy to search for a key to that which is universal and eternal .

Q. Please tell us about your first trip to Italy.

A. For me, having grown up in the Japanese architectural culture of wooden construction, the masonry culture of the West seemed fundamentally different. In Italy, there are layers of history from eras thousands of years before Christ, so it's impossible to absorb everything in just one or two tours. At best, we'll find something new to stimulate our thinking. Therefore, it's probably best to make one's travel plans with a focused theme of some kind. In my case, I planned my first trip to Italy as an exploration of the works of the great architect of the Renaissance, Michelangelo, in chronological order.
Starting with the Pietà in St. Peter's in the Vatican, I went to Florence to see the Medici Chapel and to climb the stairs of the Biblioteca Laurenziana, before going back to Rome. This time in Rome, after visiting the Piazza on the Campidoglio hill and standing before The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, I finally returned to St. Peter's. In travelling back and forth between Rome and Florence in this way, I attempted to trace the flow of time from the Renaissance to Mannerism and the Baroque, through the experience of one creator, Michelangelo. It was probably a trip I could have undertaken only at that time, when it seemed that I had nothing but time...

Q. What other ways to see Italy might there be?

A. In the Baroque period, after Michelangelo, there were two particularly interesting architects --- Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. At that time, they were said to be constant rivals. As a structure for an architectural tour, it might be interesting to look at these two architects' works, within which their respective personalities are revealed.
The paths they traveled contrasted greatly in many respects --- their origins, their personalities, and even their deaths. Bernini was born into the elite, the child of a family of court sculptors. Socially and economically, he lived a very comfortable life as an architect, steadily building a career under the patronage of successive popes. On the other hand, Borromini, born the son of a mason, developed his talent on his own and was, so to speak, a self-made architect. After working for a time for Bernini, in his mid-thirties Borromini eventually began working on his own. However, it has been said that Borromini, with his passionate temper, was constantly tormented with jealousy and often ended up in conflict with those around him. Above all, Borromini is said to have become remarkably hostile towards Bernini, who apparently looked down on him.
This difference in personality between Bernini and Borromini is clearly revealed in their architecture. It is especially evident in their use of oval motifs, which had become a new feature in Baroque architecture after the circles of the Renaissance. In Bernini's plans, the ovals are laid across the axis to create a sweet, intoxicating space suited to his flamboyant lifestyle. On the contrary, Borromini boldly used ovals longitudinally, expressing through space his extreme emotions and extraordinary obsession with power.
There is an area in central Rome where buildings by these two architects stand about a hundred meters apart --- Bernini's Sant' Andrea al Quirinale chapel on the Via Quirinale and a small chapel, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, by Borromini. By visiting them in turn, the differences in the lifestyles of these two contemporaries --- both geniuses who took their architecture to extremes --- can be clearly recognized.

Q. If you were to choose, whose architecture would appeal to you more?

A. Personally, I tend to have greater sympathy for the somewhat troubled Borromini than for the elegant Bernini. I feel an affinity for Borromini's stormy life, which infuses his architecture. He engaged passionately with architecture without concern for how he appeared to others. On this trip, I visited San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, which I hadn't seen for a long while. Fortunately, a restoration of the interior had just been completed, and I felt an even greater vitality in it than before. This building is not of such a large size. Nevertheless, it is surprising that from the Baroque era until now it has never lost its appeal to architects from all over the world. The sublime power of an architectural space and its potential to move people is never determined by its size.

Q. How have you been influenced by Borromini's architecture?

A. If there has been any influence, it is from the way he wrestled with architecture, or his way of life, rather than his architecture itself. In the end, after repeated conflicts over his work, no doubt due to his passionate character, Borromini took his own life. This is very unusual among architects, who generally need to be fairly down-to-earth --- in this respect they probably differ from other types of artist. However, Borromini might have been a true creator in the sense that he tried to keep working until the very end, and that he was so devoted to his work that he finally had no other choice than to end his life.
It is not certain, but Le Corbusier is said to have committed suicide while swimming off the coast of the Mediterranean in 1965, a few weeks before I arrived in Paris. Also, Louis Kahn's body was left unclaimed at the morgue for two days after he died in the public toilets at Pennsylvania Station, on his way home from a trip to India. Even Antonio Gaudi tragically lost his life after being struck by a tram on his way across town from the site of the Sagrada Familia. The last moments of the great masters, having survived their careers as architects, are all somehow uneasy. But what can still be said about them all is that they passed away suddenly while still fully involved in their creative and challenging work. I am not the type to worry about the manner of my death, but at least I want to be able to conclude my work in a satisfactory way.

Q. What other buildings should we see around Rome or elsewhere in Italy?

A. There is the Casa Malaparte by Adalberto Libera, the Casa del Fascio by Giuseppe Terragni, the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro and the site of the Esposizione Universal di Roma --- the EUR --- that Mussolini constructed, and many other masterpieces of Italian rationalist architecture. Besides these, there are a number of ruins from the Roman era on the outskirts of Rome. One of the things I missed in ignorance during my early trips, and which caused me regret later, was the Italian gardens.

Q. Specifically, what gardens are there?

A. The Villa Adriana and the Villa d'Este at Tivoli are the gardens I recommend visiting. I think of gardens as representations of an imaginary dream world or as images of paradise, and the garden of the Villa Adriana is a highlight. In this country retreat, the Emperor Hadrian transformed his memories of the grand tours he made during his life into various gardens and structures. Of all the villas of the successive Roman Emperors, the Villa Adriana is the grandest. The excavated area alone covers some 500,000 square meters, which is comparable to the size of a small town. Although only a part of the whole villa is now visible as ruins, this captures the imagination of visitors all the more.
The Villa d'Este, laid out on the western slopes of Tivoli, is one of the first gardens of the Renaissance Period. Its more than two hundred types of fountains are well known, yet they are not powered by pumps but solely by a gravity-driven hydraulic system. There are a number of Italian gardens that create similarly dynamic landscapes by making such sophisticated use of natural landforms.
Indeed, there are also many remarkable gardens in Kyoto, Japan. Nonetheless, they're a kind of hakoniwa --- small, enclosed gardens --- in which the ever-changing natural environment is abstracted. Italian gardens are totally different, and reflect a culture in which people sought order or constancy in nature. In Italy, just by looking at the character of these gardens, you can discover the starting point of Western architecture.

Q. Why are you engaged in architecture?

A. Architecture involves working with other people, so an architect can't simply become absorbed in his own world like other types of artist. However, if he's swamped by everyday demands and forgets his own drive for personal expression, he will lose his raison d'être. Even if he enters a design competition, the probability of losing is overwhelmingly high. Thinking about it, there's no other profession like architecture, in which the rewards don't always correspond to effort. Nonetheless, I've been pursuing this career for over thirty years. This is because I love architecture. This profession has been irresistibly fascinating for me.

Q. What is it about architecture that's so fascinating?

A. It always provides opportunities for new encounters and discoveries. Take the project of the Fondation d'Art Contemporain François Pinault, for example. For that project, I studied the history of Paris' transformation since the nineteenth century, and considered the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the consequent raising of the curtain on the age of iron. I also reviewed the development of the "Grands Projets" along the Seine, reflecting on the significance of the river, and analyzing current social conditions. In this way, I make myself aware of every issue I can think of around the problem at hand. This is how I begin my architectural studies, pursuing discoveries, seeking the answers to questions, and engaging in ongoing, abstract dialogues with the histories, cultures, and societies of various places.
In the process of realizing a building, there also needs to be down-to-earth discussions with many people. Clients, consultants, construction companies, workers on the site, and all kinds of technicians contribute to the project. In architecture, unless we communicate effectively with others, we can't get the project done. With overseas projects in particular, I get quite exhausted just from the effort involved in coordinating the views of the different teams and unifying them into one. Nonetheless, I learn a lot from these discussions, and they sometimes produce unexpected ideas.

Q. What does Osaka, or the Kansai region, mean to you?

A. Perhaps because it's where I was born and spent my impressionable twenties, you could say this place is my origin. For instance, in the 1960s, there was a space called Gutai Pinacotheca in Nakanoshima, Osaka. It was a base for the Gutai art movement --- a group of avant-garde artists led by Jiro Yoshihara, and which included such people as Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga as members. They pioneered what we now call performance art --- one running around on the banks of the river in Ashiya, with another releasing balloons into the air... Anyway, it presented me with a series of stimulating experiences, and made me wonder if what they were doing was really art. Another memorable place was a café called G-Sen --- or G-string --- on Center Street in Sannomiya, Kobe. Its interior was designed by Yoshio Hayakawa, and it was another of the Kansai region's cultural hotspots, frequented by such people as the graphic designers Ikko Tanaka, Tsunehisa Kimura, and Tadanori Yokoo. Looking from a distance at these people working so energetically, I also tried to find a path for myself. The time I spent in Osaka was the most fascinating and stimulating.
Also, it was the people of Kansai who, after I started my own architectural office, gave me opportunities to design. Many courageous people put their energy behind my bold endeavors and shared my dreams. The climate of Kansai has made me what I am now.

Q. Why do you continue to stay in the Kansai region?

A. One reason is that there are things one can never grasp unless you keep working in a particular place and a particular context. In my case, most of the projects I've been involved with are located around Osaka. They're concentrated in the region that stretches along the old Yamato River, where the Sayamaike Historical Museum and the Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum are located, to Osaka Bay and the Inland Sea. Their proximity was not intended, but in pouring my energy into each project, I've developed my own ideas about the relationship between the city and architecture, or between place and architecture.
Also, it's the city of Osaka which is the subject of my proposals for urban spaces. For example, my project for the Osaka Station area involves arranging freely-accessible roof gardens on the high-rise buildings around the station, and our project for Nakanoshima, which should be regarded as a key area in Osaka, is to renovate the island as a bastion of culture. I am currently planning such things as a floral exposition on the banks of the Okawa River, where Osaka is still remembered as a city of waterways. These proposals were generated of my own accord without any particular clients, so I don't know if they'll be realized or not. Nonetheless, I want to tackle these projects with the same passion I give to everything else. After all, the city of Osaka is the place where I live as an architect.

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