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12.4: Architecture (2000 - Present)

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    Architecture is the art and process of designing and constructing buildings, incorporating practical and expressive requirements of both functional and artistic ends. Asian contemporary architecture is a compilation of many styles with no dominant hierarchy. From traditional to highly conceptual, the square buildings of the twentieth century have given way to buildings with the look of a sculptural piece of art. With digital technology, the pencil has been replaced, and architects use a process of digitized architecture to transform societies' way of life and raise awareness of the global environmental damage caused by the overuse of natural resources. New technologies challenge gravity as they spiral higher into the atmosphere as competition becomes the highest.[1]

    Architecture is one of the significant developments in building design in the new millennium, developing new concepts and designing mixed-use facilities to fit into compact settings with public transportation. The pressures of energy requirements to meet radical design turned the architects into efficient and functional artists. The concept of immense towers caused adjustments in lifestyles and the concepts of where we live, work, transportation needs, and supporting public lands requirements. 

    The building materials of the new millennium are prefabricated on-demand using computer-aided machines to cut, construct, and process raw materials into pieces transported to the job site. Using robotics guarantees the accuracy and continuity of the fabricated components and reduces human error. Testing labs for earthquake stability, wind stability, and fire prevention are essential for the design. More than half of the world's population resides in urban cities, and contextual models based on environmentally compatible selections have become important. Architects are challenged to create unusual designs using twenty-first-century materials and engineering techniques. The artists in this section are:

    • Kazuyo Sejimachrome building in the shape of a W (1956-)
    • Shigeru Ban (1957-)
    • Yasmeen Lari (1941-)
    • Toyo Ito (1941-) 
    • Arata Isozaki (1931-)
    • Lu Wenyu (1967-) 
    • Wang Shu (1963-)
    • Tadao Ando (1941-)
    • Vo Trong Nghia Architects
    • WOHA Architects

    Kazuyo Sejima

    Kazuyo Sejima (1956-) is a Japanese architect known for her clear modernist elements with shiny, slick, clean surfaces. After graduating from Japan Women's University, she worked for another architect. Sejima founded Kazuyo Sejima and Associates (SANNA) as a worldwide studio for innovative building designs. Sejima redefined her style, and instead of narrowing down a design, she used models to finalize what she calls "process designs." Sejima was the second woman (Zaha Hadid was the first) to win the coveted Pritzker Prize in 2012. 2016 Fast Company named SANNA one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies.

    The Sumida Hokusai Museum (12.4.1) in Tokyo is dedicated to the work of the great print artist Katsushika Hokusai. The monolithic block is five stories with angular cutouts bringing light into the museum's center. A patchwork of residential, commercial, and light industrial zones surrounds the building. She had to fit the building into an environment of the architectural hodgepodge. Sejima divided the building into several units of various sizes so the entire building did not overwhelm the neighborhood.[2] The geometric forms continued inside, creating walkways with a triangular appearance. The outside of the structure is clad in aluminum panels that softly reflect the skies, and there are huge windows for natural light, producing a fluid passage between inside and outside. One of the design challenges Sejima confronted was to minimize the amount of sunlight to protect the delicate prints of Hokusai's artwork. Leveraging the slanted wall, she allowed sunlight into the building using the A-frame construction.

    a chrome building in the shape of a W
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Sumida Hokusai Museum (2016, Japan) (KakidaiCC BY-SA 4.0)
    SANAA Sumida Hokusai Museum

    A visit to Sanaa's Hokusai Museum in Tokyo. I think the building itself is quite beautiful. The brushed metal clad facade and triangular cut wedges are proportionately well balanced, but that's where it all stops. SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima and Rye Nishizawa received the Pritzker prize in 2010 for being "deceptively simple" and for their architecture which "stands out in direct contrast with the bombastic".


    In 2007, The New Museum of Contemporary Art (12.4.2) opened its doors to 5,453 square meters of changeable exhibition spaces as an incubator for new ideas. The bold decision to stack boxes on each other allowed Sejima to create a harmonious symbiotic connection to the surrounding neighborhood. The seven boxes are of various sizes and heights (53 meters), giving the appearance of a child stacking blocks before they fall. The four public galleries are located on the first through the fourth floor, with educational centers and offices occupying the rest of the building. The light and airy spaces are covered in a seamless, anodized, and expanded aluminum mesh wrapped to mimic soft, shimmering skin. Visitors are drawn into the museum through large 4.5-meter glass doors stretching the entire width of the building. The grey concrete sidewalks change into the grey concrete polished floors inside the doors.  

    5 story grey block building in steel
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): New Museum of Contemporary Art (2007, New York) (MusikAnimalCC BY-SA 4.0)

    Shigeru Ban

    Shigeru Ban (1957-) is a Japanese architect born in Tokyo and attended the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Ban is known for his innovative and temporary prefabricated cardboard houses for disaster victims. In 2014, Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Prize for modern architecture. "The Pritzker Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of material and his dedication to humanitarian efforts worldwide, calling him "a committed teacher who is not only a role model for the younger generation but also an inspiration.[3] Marrying his Eastern philosophy with Western building materials, Ban creates minimalistic structures, unlike others.

    Located in the heart of Aspen, Colorado, the Aspen Art Museum (12.4.3) is a remarkable facility that boasts of an impressive 10,058 square meters of space. The museum, which opened its doors to the public in 2014, is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The museum consists of four levels, including six gallery spaces, an outdoor commons, and a rooftop sculpture garden, providing visitors with a serene environment to appreciate art while enjoying the beauty of nature. The Grand Stair, a magnificent architectural masterpiece that spans three levels, is one of the museum's most striking features. The stairway intersects with a glass wall, allowing natural light to stream in and seamlessly blend the indoor and outdoor spaces. The exterior wood screen, crafted from a composite of paper and resin and adorned with a wood veneer, adds a touch of elegance to the museum's exterior. As you stroll through the rooftop sculpture garden, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. The garden is a tranquil oasis where visitors can appreciate art while taking in the stunning surroundings. 

    a wooden building with grids
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Aspen Art Museum (2014, Colorado) (Bkthomson16CC BY-SA 4.0)

    The Nomadic Museum (12.4.4) is a unique art exhibition that showcases the Ashes and Snow exhibition, created by Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert. What sets this exhibition apart is its innovative design, which makes it possible to transport it from one city to another. The museum is crafted entirely from repurposed shipping containers, large paper tubes, and a tubular triangle roof truss that supports the fabric roof panels and offers the illusion of a European Gothic church nave. The museum's construction typically takes place on a pier, and it spans an impressive 205 meters, consisting of two parallel rows of containers arranged in a checkered pattern. To create this masterpiece, Colbert enlisted the expertise of renowned architect Shigeru Ban, who designed a mobile building that would perfectly showcase the Ashes and Snow exhibition. The Nomadic Museum first opened on New York's Pier 54 and went on to travel to other cities, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind, breathtaking artistic experience. 

    a container building with a picture of a boy with wings
    Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Nomadic Museum (2005) (Paolo MazzoleniCC BY-SA 2.0)

    Visitors are guided through a spacious walkway constructed with eco-friendly scaffolding wood (12.4.5), while the rest of the floor is adorned with river rocks to evoke a sense of calmness and harmony. The museum's minimalist design, created by Ban to emphasize the art on display, is accentuated by this layout. One of the most remarkable aspects of this mobile museum is its standardized containers, allowing for rental in any port city where the exhibit is situated. Not only is this design cost-effective due to the use of recycled materials, but it also produces a visually stunning gallery that is easily moveable.

    wooden plank walkway with metal columns and art on the wall
    Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\): Interior of Nomadic Museum (PaoloMazzoleniCC BY 2.0)

    Yasmeen Lari

    Yasmeen Lari (1941-) is Pakistan's first female architect and received the Royal Gold Medal in 2023, the first recipient King Charles III approved in his newly established reign. The award is given to some who have significantly influenced architecture. After receiving the award, Lari said, "I never imagined that as I focus on my country's most marginalized people—venturing down uncharted vagabond pathways—I could still be considered for the highest honors in the architectural profession." And she concluded, "Totally delighted." [4]The award was based on her work to create emergency shelters and housing for Pakistan's people devastated by earthquakes, floods, and conflicts. Lari created simple designs to rebuild from the debris available during disasters. She worked with a foundation to build 50,000 accessible dwellings from found materials, focusing on low cost and zero carbon. Previously, Lari received an award for designing and implementing a smokeless cooking device made from mud and quickly constructed by local people, an alternative to the polluting stoves generally used by Pakistanis.

    Lari's life as a child was focused on her father and his work on development projects in different cities where she was exposed to architecture. As a teenager, she went to school in London, followed by attending Oxford Brookes University in the School of Architecture. After graduating in 1964, Lari and her husband returned to Pakistan, where she opened her own company. The time was difficult as construction site workers constantly challenged her authority and expertise because she was a woman. She built a successful architectural career designing office buildings, hotels, and apartments. The latter part of her career was spent with her Heritage Foundation to help people restore their lives, dignity, and homes after disasters. Lari called it "Barefoot social architecture," using naturally available materials of mud, bamboo, and recycled materials. She also set up training programs to educate local people on building safer, inexpensive dwellings with their own hands. Lari's concepts are the opposite of the usual "international colonial charity model that believes in treating people as victims, giving them handouts, telling them to use concrete and all kinds of materials that are going to be even more destructive to the planet." [5] She believes that the approach does not work.

    Lari called it "Barefoot social architecture," using naturally available materials of mud, bamboo, and recycled materials.

    Since 2010, Pakistan has endured multiple significant floods and earthquakes, destroying the homes of already impoverished people. Lari believed the usual tents sent by charity groups to house people were not long-lasting and did not fit with the people's lifestyles. Lari designed shelters or living places (12.4.6) made from bamboo, mud, and lime, locally sourced, sustainable materials. The latched roofs and supporting bamboo poles were constructed first, followed by mud/lime bricks. The walls were covered with smoothed mud and frequently decorated with local designs. A family could build one or more of the structures. The building could be built on stilts for flood-prone areas, mud floors, or platforms. The people were trained in simple construction techniques and could create their own housing. Thousands of these styles of houses have been constructed in Pakistan. The video is a TED Talk by Lari.

    mud brick homes with thatched roofs
     Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\): Pakistan dwellings (BBC UrduCC BY 3.0)
    No to Handouts

    Award-winning architect and humanitarian Yasmeen Lari says it’s time to redesign foreign aid to promote self-reliance rather than dependence on handouts. As Pakistan’s first female architect, Yasmeen led a glittering career designing government complexes and major landmarks. After retiring, she shifted her focus to building sustainable low-cost homes in some of Pakistan’s poorest areas, and shares her passion for how to deliver social and ecological justice through architecture. Yasmeen Lari is a world-famous pioneer of zero carbon architecture and designer of over 50,000 zero carbon, low-cost homes in her home country of Pakistan. Yasmeen Lari qualified as Pakistan's first female architect in 1963, and lives in Karachi. She rose to become a nationally famous 'starchitect' during her early career. Since her official retirement from architectural practice in 2000, her UN-recognised charity 'Heritage Foundation Pakistan' has built thousands of zero carbon homes for some of the poorest rural villages in Pakistan. She was awarded the Fukuoka Prize in 2016, and the Jane Drew prize in 2020.

    Additional text/introduction.

    Toyo Ito 

    Toyo Ito (1941-) was born in Korea to Japanese parents living in Korea during the war. The family returned to Japan, where Ito attended school and graduated from the University of Tokyo. He worked for several architectural firms before starting his own company in 1979. Ito is called "one of the world's most innovative and influential architects."[6] He received multiple awards, including the Pritzker Prize. 

    Ito had specific design principles he used to combine traditional Japanese features and modern concepts and methods. Ito stated, "Architecture tends to be too conventional and is often out of touch with time and social context, especially in public buildings."[7] He used architecture as a transformation tool based on ideas found in geographical locations, meeting the needs of the time and space to support the user's needs. Ito also believed in using natural elements for construction, minimizing environmental destruction, and having large open spaces to integrate nature. 

    A Piece of Clothing 

    Pritzker Prize-winning architect Toyo Ito tells Dezeen that, while his buildings vary in material and style, the key to all of them is their close relationship with the people that inhabit them. He adds: "When I think about architecture, I think of it as a piece of clothing that must be wrapped around human beings." Ito says that many of the forms he uses in his buildings are taken from the natural world.


    Taiwan's National Taichung Theater (12.4.7) was one of Ito's most ambitious projects. The theater is three-in-one, with common areas and distinct theaters. One section contains the 2,000-seat Grand Theater, another the 800-seat Playhouse, and the third is a 200-seat theater with an adjacent amphitheater when the sliding doors open. The entire theater is made from concrete and glass with immense hourglass-shaped areas (12.4.8). The unusual shapes define how the inside is formed as the walls roll in and out with remarkable plasticity. The walls created deep caverns and towering canyons in the building. The lack of straight, continual walls changes the viewer's perspective, and the curving surfaces play with the movement of light. The structure uses non-geometrical lines, immense glass walls, and significant interior space to create a structure in tune with nature. Light, water, and sounds flow freely, "intertwining with art to transcend impressions of time and space."[8] The vast lobby is an entrance to all the theaters, filtering viewers through a labyrinth of tunnels. Ito also placed holes (12.4.9) at different places in the inside walls to allow light and air to flow through and give the space an open feeling. On top of the structure are gardens (12.4.10) with seating and pathways.

    a glass and concrete building with odd shapes
    Figure \(\PageIndex{7}\): Outside of National Taichung Theatre (2014) (Wpcpey, CC BY 4.0)
    side of a glass and concrete building
    Figure \(\PageIndex{8}\): Front of National Taichung Theatre (李家宇, CC BY-SA 4.0)
    red carpet floor with tan polka dot walls
    Figure \(\PageIndex{9}\): Level 2 breathing holes (Wpcpey, CC BY 4.0)
    circular concrete white biuldings
    Figure \(\PageIndex{10}\): National Taichung Theatre garden (Wpcpey, CC BY 4.0)

    Tama Art University Library was built on the Tokyo side. The original building on the site was a cafeteria used by staff and students, a common place to gather. For the new library, the same feeling remained, and the first floor is a space for people to gather or pass through to other buildings. The arches were made with steel plates covered with concrete. The arches (12.4.11) are very slender at the bottom and still support the heavy load of concrete and steel. Inside the ground floor are large glass tables for students to use while waiting or meeting others. The library starts on the second floor (12.4.12), and the rounded sections feel like caves as light streams through and bounce off the unusual angles.

    a 2 story building with half moon windows
    Figure \(\PageIndex{11}\): Tama Art University Library (2007) (Marco CapitanioCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    concrete building with half moon pillars
    Figure \(\PageIndex{12}\): Inside Tama Art University Library (Marco CapitanioCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    The design for the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture was made into two separate buildings, one named the Steel Hut and the other the Silver Hut. Each space had different functions; one hut was an exhibition space, and the other was a place for workshops, lectures, and discussions. Silver Hut (x.x) was based in Ito's house in Tokyo, a memorial to his deceased wife. The building had shiny, metal roof vaults and round windows shaped like portholes. He used the vaults and windows to light the gathering place for people to work and discuss. Although the shiny building seems out of place in the tranquil seaside hills, the structure appears as distant clouds or islands as the rounded roofs move across the space. 

    The Steel Hut (x.x) was placed down the pathway and differed from the other hut. The dark polyhedral shapes are mostly windowless, and the structure resembles an alien concept. The modules composing the building were assembled and placed loosely with each other, with little definition of walls or floors. As visitors move between rooms, "the inclined walls unfold panoramically. This unique quality of the space enables unusual exhibition methods that are completely different from the orthodox exhibition space based on a standard grid. A double-height polyhedral stack for the entrance hall, three chambers packed horizontally carrying the main exhibition spaces, and a four-story tower serving as a beacon."[9]

    metal arched buildings over looking the bay
    Figure \(\PageIndex{13}\): Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture (kentamabuchiCC BY-SA 2.0)
    brown metal building in triangle shapes
    Figure \(\PageIndex{14}\): Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture (JapanexperternaCCBYSA)

    Arata Isozaki

    Arata Isozaki (1931-2022) was born on Kyushu, one of Japan’s islands. As a child, he lived through World War II and post-war Japan. His vivid memory of seeing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima across the shore of his home influenced his future designs. He stated, "I grew up on ground zero. There was no architecture, no buildings, and not even a city. So, my first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities."[10] Isozaki received a degree from the University of Tokyo in 1954 and his doctorate from there in 1961, and opened his own company. His early work focused on daring geometric concrete shapes of cylinders, cubes, pyramids, and spheres. At first, Isozaki focused his work on Japan and was considered by some as the "emperor of Japanese architecture." As he moved to contemporary designs, he incorporated Japanese ideas of emptiness and darkness and how they created shadows. Later in his life, Isozaki received the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture. 

    Time and Space Existence

    PLANE—SITE met with Japanese architect Arata Isozaki in his studio to have a conversation and explore the topics of time, space, and existence in architecture. Isozaki discusses his philosophy on architecture as it relates to space, as well as his intention to never fall into one specific style of design, but create different and unique styles for each distinct environment.


    The Harbin Concert Hall (12.4.15) is a performing center in Harbin, China. Although the venue contains space for multiple performances, the Harbin Symphony Orchestra was one of China's first major orchestras. The central concert hall has 1200 seats, and the small one has 400 seats. The floor space covers 20,000 square meters and a surrounding area of 13,000 square meters. Isozaki designed the building to resemble a floating ice crystal, and the translucent opening in the ceiling allows bright pinpoints of light to reflect into the night sky. Over seventy-two light LED panels hang from the ceiling and can change colors from pastel to saturated shades. 

    domed building in white steel and glass
    Figure \(\PageIndex{15}\): Harbin Concert Hall (2014) (CalivaCC BY-SA 4.0)

    The National Convention Centre Qatar was considered one of the most exceptional convention centers ever constructed. The center was based around the 'Sidra Tree'. The tree has grown in Qatar's countryside for generations and is considered a sign of comfort in the desert heat. Groups of trees allowed travelers a place of refuge, and the tree represents perseverance and determination. The tree (12.4.16) is the primary design focus of the center and is 250 meters wide and almost five stories high. The two steel-intertwined trees support each other on the outside of the building, and inside are decorative leaves (12.4.17) from the tree. The center was also constructed with the latest in water conservation and energy efficiency. The conference hall holds 4,000 seats, three auditoria, 40,000 square meters of exhibition space, and other meeting rooms. 

    steel building with windows with tree trunk columns
    Figure \(\PageIndex{16}\): Sidra tree (oriordainCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    windows with green glass leaves
    Figure \(\PageIndex{17}\): Leaves of the Sidra tree (ToGa WanderingsCC BY 2.0)

    Isozaki won the 2019 Pritzker Prize for his design of the Ark Nova, an innovative design that is a tribute to his ability to change and create new ideas over his career. The committee stated, "Possessing a profound knowledge of architectural history and theory and embracing the avant-garde, he never merely replicated the status quo, but his search for meaningful architecture was reflected in his buildings that, to this day, defy stylistic categorizations, are constantly evolving, and always fresh in their approach."[11]

    The idea for the building came after the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011 and the major devastation of the affected communities. With all the cultural buildings destroyed, people had no venue for concerts, shows, or exhibitions, all the elements to raise the people's spirits. So, Isozaki, along with the artist Anish Kapoor, designed a traveling concert hall. The building was thirty meters across and eighteen meters high. Art Nova was made from an unusual eggplant color. The membrane was filled with air and could be inflated, deflated, and folded to move to another location. The inside space was open without any posts or interfering structures and accommodated up to five hundred people. 

    Opening Ark Nova

    The goal of the project, which was initiated by Michael Haefliger, Executive and Artistic Director of LUCERNE FESTIVAL, and Masahide Kajimoto, President of KAJIMOTO, is to contribute to the cultural reconstruction of the region in Northeastern Japan which was affected by the major disaster of 11 March 2011. An inflatable, mobile concert hall that was designed by the British artist Anish Kapoor in collaboration with the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. 


    Lu Wenyu and Wang Shu 

    Lu Wenyu (1967-) and Wang Shu (1963-) are a husband-and-wife team. Lu was from a remote province of China. One of her teachers was previously an architect and taught Lu how to draw. Lu studied architecture at the Nanjing Institute of Technology. Wang was also from another remote province of China. As a child, he was self-taught in art, studied at the Southeast University in Nanjing, and received bachelor's and master's degrees. 

    Lu and Wang married, and they started the architectural firm Amateur Architecture Studio. They chose an unusual name for their company to protest China's soulless, mass-produced architecture. They use traditional and salvaged materials to build new structures with style and character. They believed globalization had removed unique attributes and characteristics in today's cities, leaving soulless buildings. Lu and Wang developed a vision of creative and innovative buildings using materials available in a specific location. Wang was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2012 for his architecture that invoked the past, re-invigorated tradition with cultural continuity, "opening new horizons while at the same time resonates with place and memory."[12]Although they both worked on the projects, Lu did not receive the prize. She did not complain, only saying she preferred to avoid public recognition. 

    Lu and Wang like to recycle materials. Machine-made tiles, rocks, and pebbles (12.4.18) not only form the wall but also add architectural interest and detail. Concrete and recycled tiles (12.4.19) demonstrate how large, thick slabs of cement can be layered with old tiles for building. They also add visual interest by laying bamboo stalks (12.4.20) into wet concrete and creating a natural-looking design to remove the starkness of a plain concrete wall. Using old bricks (12.4.21) can bring a pattern based on both the color and different sizes of the bricks. These material building styles were used in the Ningho Museum of History.

    stone, rock tile stacked wall
    Figure \(\PageIndex{18}\): Machine-made tiles, sedimentary rocks, and pebbles (Jenny MacknessCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    rammed earth with stacked tiles inbetween
    Figure \(\PageIndex{19}\): Concrete and recycled tiles (Jenny MacknessCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    concrete wall
    Figure \(\PageIndex{20}\): Concrete imprint of bamboo weaving (Jenny MacknessCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    brick wals
    Figure \(\PageIndex{21}\): Recycled bricks (Copyright; author via source)

    The Ningbo History Museum (12.4.21) is in the province of Zhejiang, China, and is 30,000 square meters. Previously, the area was covered with traditional Chinese villages, which were demolished due to China's push to build tall, metal, dull buildings to house people. The demolished villages also shattered the cultures and customs of the people. Wang wanted to create the museum with the materials recovered from the debris of the villages and found beautiful materials everywhere. He said, "I wanted to build this museum for the people who were originally living here so they can keep some memories."[13] 

    stone and concrete building with rectangular windows
    Figure \(\PageIndex{21}\): Ningbo Museum south gate (2008) (Siyuwj, CC BY-SA 3.0)

    The museum walls (12.4.22) were made from recycled bricks and tiles, some of the materials over a thousand years old. The retrieved material was built using wapan, an ancient, traditional method. The recycled bricks, tiles, and stones were stacked together in thin layers of lime, creating a woven pattern for stability. In 2000, the Chinese government banned solid clay construction for large buildings to reduce CO2 emissions. Building in wapan style was once only for people experiencing poverty. Since the museum was built, the example of transforming old materials into new construction is accepted as a modern standard. Wang said, "During the design and construction process, I was accused of creating something that reflects the most outdated appearance of Ningbo in the most modernized district of the city."[14] Now, the museum is a standard for recycling and using traditional methods to construct new buildings. 

    wall of exterior building with windows
    Figure \(\PageIndex{22}\): Museum windows and walls (Siyuwj, CC BY-SA 3.0)
    Pritzker Architecture Prize

    The Pritzker Architecture Prize – Interview with Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu at the 107th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in Pittsburgh, PA.


    Tadao Ando 

    Tadao Ando (1941-) and his twin brother were born in Osaka, Japan, during the beginning of World War II. His family separated the brothers to lessen the likely effects of wartime bombing. Ando first worked as a boxer before deciding to be an architect. An essentially self-taught architect, he learned from correspondence courses and night classes and started his architectural firm. Ando was heavily influenced by religion, and his work emphasized the beauty of empty space and the importance of spatial interaction with complex structures as an essential part of architectural design. Ando believed architecture changed society and said, "To change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society."[15] Ando followed the religious concepts of Zen to give his work a feeling of weightlessness. He has a simplistic feel to his design, yet the spatial relationships with light, space, and water bring the power of his design to life. Ando generally creates buildings with dimensional circular pathways interweaving through interior and exterior geometric shapes, keeping spaces in between. His preferred material is concrete; however, his concrete is known to be as smooth as silk. Ando has received multiple awards, including the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. 

    When Ando saw the unusual mountaintop site for the museum SAN, he wanted to create a different world. He stated, "I always wished to create a place that could provide the "energy for life" — nourishment for the mind that will last even when one becomes a hundred years old, restoring the energy to children to run and shout for joy in nature, who had lost their vitality overstressed by the cramming educational regime. Therefore, I did not want to build an ordinary museum that is like a silent box, and this site was a perfect spot for realizing my plan."[16] He didn't want the museum to be a silent place with art hung on the walls. Ando developed a complete plan integrated with nature and the environment while supporting the artwork and the needs of the people for the museum SAN.

    His design included a welcome center, multiple gardens (stone, flower, water), a main building, and a unique exhibition hall. The museum covers 700 meters on the mountain. The structures are constructed with rectangular, triangular, and round spaces. These geometric shapes are part of Ando's philosophy of linking the sky, earth, and humans in a reflective environment. The water garden (12.4.23) has an extended cutout wall reflecting the water in concert with the sky and trees. The stone garden (12.4.24) reaches out across the mountain with formal mounded stone and flat stone areas. Trees are strategically placed and reflect in the sunlight. Inside the building (12.4.25), Ando uses the same metal, stone, and light structures. He added a specific meditation room (12.4.26) to enhance the contemplative nature of the site. 

    concrete wall with big window on a reflection pond
    Figure \(\PageIndex{23}\): Museum SAN water garden (©
    stone and brick walkwaywith trees planted
    Figure \(\PageIndex{24}\): Museum SAN stone garden (©
    concrete walls with wood pieces
    Figure \(\PageIndex{25}\): Museum SAN inside (©
    yoga mats in a circle in a concrete building
    Figure \(\PageIndex{26}\): Museum SAN meditation Room (©
    Museum San

    The Museum SAN(Space Art Nature) is peacefully located in Oak Valley, in the mountains of Wonju, South Korea.


    The Hill of the Buddha demonstrates spirituality as the viewer only sees the top of the Buddha's head (12.4.27), piquing the imagination and wondering what this looks like. Along the way is a water garden (12.4.28) that captures the sky's reflection and surroundings with a sense of serenity. A forty-meter tunnel provides the walkway to the statue, and the walls amplify the sounds of footsteps. The last step is arrival at the roofless hall (12.4.29), where the 13.5-meter-high Buddha (12.4.30) sits above the stairs, patiently waiting. Around the massive site are 150,000 lavender plants with their purple carpet of flowers over the hills. The pathway moves through the lavender to reach the Buddha from the outside and look the statue in the face.  

    top of a buddha head with lavender plants
    Figure \(\PageIndex{27}\): Hill of the Buddha (2015) (mightymightymatzeCC BY-NC 2.0)
    concrete walls surrounding a pool
    Figure \(\PageIndex{28}\): Reflecting pond at Hill of the Buddha (2015) (SqueakyMarmotCC BY-SA 2.0)
    seated buddha inside a concrete building
    Figure \(\PageIndex{29}\): Hill of the Buddha (Appie Verschoor from Rotterdam, the NetherlandsCC BY-SA 2.0)
    Buddha sitting at the top of the stairs
    Figure \(\PageIndex{30}\): Hill of the Buddha entrance (CC BY 2.0)

    Vo Trong Nghia Architects

    Sometimes, just one person is not the only building designer; an entire firm is frequently responsible for the design. Vo Trong Nghia Architects were commissioned to design a welcome center for the Grand World Phu Quoc based on Vietnamese cultural ideals. The principal architects were Vo Trong Nghia and Nguyen Tat Dat, along with others from the architectural firm. They wanted to base the structure on environmentally compatible and native materials. The structure was centered on a spacious floor of 1,460 square meters. The building took 42,000 bamboo culms (the hollow stems of bamboo), a replaceable material growing throughout Vietnam. Bamboo is considered the "green steel of the 21st century." The structure was designed with arches, domes, and grids covering a broad, open expanse inside. The bamboo framework was based on an open design, and light shone through all building parts. The roof was thatched with skylights for additional light.[17] The video demonstrates the beauty of the structure and the use of natural materials. 

    Grandworld Phu Quoc Welcome Center

    Vinpearl Project is the welcome center of the Grand World Phu Quoc master-plan, which is the center of the massive Phu Quoc United Center. The client asked us to make a bamboo structure that embodies the Vietnamese cultures and becoming a symbol of the entire master-plan project, attracting tourists to Grand World Phu Quoc. The scope of the project is massive, with the building area of 1,460 m2. We managed to satisfy the requirements of the client, creating a unique bamboo structure that embodies Vietnamese culture and is a symbol of Grand World Phu Quoc. The lotus and the bronze drum, two traditional Vietnamese symbols are sculpted into the dense layers of bamboo grid, expressing the traditional Vietnamese cultures.

    Additional text/introduction.


    WOHA is a Singapore architectural company that designs sustainable structures and includes solutions to accommodate climate change and urbanization. Their buildings provide a better quality of life for the inhabitants and include an unusual integration of a large amount of vegetation, trees, grasses, shrubs, climbers, or flowers. Their designs are sustainable and environmentally composed, including natural ventilation instead of air conditioning, which they call "breathing architecture."[18] Their Parkroyal on Pickering (12.4.31) is an environmentally inspired building with passive strategies such as naturally ventilated corridors, solar-powered irrigation, rainwater retention, and sun shading.[19] The building is structured similarly to rice terraces (12.4.32), bringing tropical garden views to every room.

    apartment building in three areas with gardens growing on every floor
    Figure \(\PageIndex{31}\): Parkroyal on Pickering (Erwin Soo, CC BY 2.0)
    gardens growing on the side of a building
    Figure \(\PageIndex{32}\): Parkroyal on Pickering close up (InhabitatCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore

    Watch how the building sits pretty in its urban, cultural and environmental context in Singapore's Chinatown district.





    [2] New York Times

     [3] Shigeru Ban named 2014 Pritzker Prize Winner"

    [4] Yasmeen Lari Awarded 2023 RIBA Royal Gold Medal

    [5] Architect Yasmeen Lari: ‘The international colonial charity model will never work’

    [6] toyo ito

    [7] Toyo Ito - Design Philosophy of His Notable Projects

    [8] The National Taichung Theater

    [9] Toyo Ito Museum for Architecture

    [10] New York Times 

    [11] Ark Nova 2013


    [13] De Zeen 

    [14] ACSA 

    [15] Masao Furuyama. “Tadao Ando”. 

    [16] The Place of "Energy for Life"

    [17] De Zeen 

    [18] WOHA's 'Breathing Architecture' Exhibition

    [19] WOHA