Gaines Group Architects

13. Church of the Light by Tadao Ando #105architecturalinspiration

The Church of the Light is a chapel designed by Tadao Ando located in Osaka, Japan. Ando is one of my favorite architects not just for the beautiful structures he creates, but the philosophy he uses for design. He states: “we borrow from nature the space upon which we build.” Taking this approach to design changes how you think about the solutions proposed.

In graduate school my thesis was based on the phenomenology of place. I proposed that there is a need to understand place before you can design an appropriate solution. Ando was one of the influences on my study. According to him “you cannot simply put something new into a place. You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see.” 

This idea of knowing the people, culture, and climate you design within is a basis of how I approach every project. Ando did this in the Church of the Light. He created a stark interior space, to him this emptiness is meant to invade the occupant so there is room for the spiritual to fill them. Knowing the function, the place, and the culture he is able to bring meaning through architecture to the inhabitants of the space. His work has a simplistic elegance to it learned from Japanese culture. With subtle moves he has created power and emotion. With materials and light he directs the inhabitants attention, path, and focus. Truly one of the greats of our time, I have gained so much for reading and studying his creations.


#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian

5. Lighthouses

6. Hatch Show Prints

7. The Aqua Tower in Chicago

8. Chicago Theatre Marquee

9. Samuel Mockbee

10. Richard Meier

11. Notre Dame du Haut

12. Philip Merrill Environmental Center