Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tadao Ando Meditation Space (UNESCO Paris)


Almost a year ago Phaidon approached me to ask if they could use a photograph I'd taken of the Tadao Ando Meditation space at UNESCO Paris, for a book they were publishing entitled 'Concrete.' Of course I said yes.

It was a very nice surprise to receive a copy of this book the other morning. It collates a selection of architecture projects where concrete has been used as the principal building material. It is a gorgeous book that illustrates the versatility and beauty of concrete in architecture. Here is 'my' page.


The Tadao Ando Meditation Space at UNESCO Paris was built in 1995 to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the institution. It is an abstract space symbolising spiritual freedom.

Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect born in Osaka Japan in 1941. Apparently he never had a formal education in architecture but started out as a carpenter between the ages of 10 and 17. He also worked for a while as a truck driver and a boxer. However, by his late teens he had already developed a passionate interest in architecture and visited many Japanese temples, tea houses and shrines gathering inspiration and knowledge which he enhanced further by reading many books on the subject. In his early twenties he travelled to the United States, Europe and Africa and developed a fascination with the work of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. The influence of Le Corbusier on Tadao Ando's work goes without question.

I've worked as a consultant at UNESCO since 1996. During the summer months I would often picnic in the Japanese Gardens that form part of the UNESCO complex and then meander through the Tadao Ando meditation space on my way to get a post lunch coffee. 








I would always pause as I passed through the concrete drum, and look up. I think you can see why!


Here is a view from the street.

You can see the Eiffel Tower peeking out from behind.

The main building at UNESCO was designed by architect Marcel Breuer.




Tadao Ando's architecture represents the beauty of simplicity, while often including circulation paths from one space to another, using natural light to enhance and contrast solids and voids.









Here is a blog post I wrote on a Le Corbusier building I visited in India, The Mill Owners' Association Building, Ahmedabad).

_________
UNESCO
7, Place de Fontenoy
75007 Paris
Metro: Ségur, Cambronne, Ecole militaire
Bus: 28, 80

To visit UNESCO, please write to visits@unesco.org

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