Church of the Light, Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan
Tadao Ando

7⅛ x 17¾ x 7"

In the small town of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka, Japan, stands one of Tadao Ando’s signature architectural works, the Church of the Light. The Church of the Light embraces Ando’s philosophical framework between nature and architecture through the way in which light can define and create new spatial perceptions equally, if not more so, as that of his concrete structures. Completed in 1989, the Church of the Light was a renovation to an existing Christian compound in Ibaraki. The new church was the first phase to a complete redesign of the site – later completed in 1999 – under Ando’s design aesthetic.

For Ando, the Church of Light is an architecture of duality – the dual nature of existence – solid/void, light/dark, stark/serene. The coexisting differences leave the church void of any, and all, ornament creating a pure, unadorned space. The intersection of light and solid raises the occupants awareness of the spiritual and secular within themselves.

The employment of simplistic materials reinforces the duality of the space; the concrete structure removes any distinction of traditional Christian motifs and aesthetic. Besides an extruded cross from the east facing façade, the church is composed of a concrete shell; the concrete adds to the darkness of the church by creating a more humble, meditative place of worship. As a testament to minimalist architecture, the crosses void in the east facing wall is the only prominent religious symbol present in the church.

The concrete construction is a reinforcement of Ando’s principal focus on simplicity and minimalist aesthetic; however, the way in which the concrete is poured and formed gives the concrete a luminous quality when exposed to natural light. Ando’s decision to place the cross on the east façade allows for light to pour into the space throughout the early morning and into the day, which has a dematerializing effect on the interior concrete walls transforming the dark volume into an illuminated box. —Archdaily


(Photo: MoMA)