Tadao Ando's path to becoming one of the world''s best-known architects was unconventional. At the age of 17, Ando became a professional boxer and series of matches took him to Bangkok where in his spare time he visited Buddhist temples. He became fascinated by their design and soon decided to trade in his life of professional boxing to focus on his interest in architecture.
With no formal architectural training, he says : "I was never a good student. I always preferred learning things on my own outside of class. When I was about 18, I started to visit temples, shrines, and tea houses in Kyoto and Nara; there's a lot of great traditional architecture in the area. I was studying architecture by going to see actual buildings, and reading books about them."
He studied the works of architects Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Kahn, among others, before returning to Osaka in 1968 to establish his own design studio, Tadao Ando Architects and Associates.
Since then, Ando has completed over 300 projects across his 50-year career and was awarded the Pritzker prize in 1995.
"In all my works, light is an important controlling factor," says Ando. "I create enclosed spaces mainly by means of thick concrete walls. The primary reason is to create a place for the individual, a zone for oneself within society. When the external factors of a city's environment require the wall to be without openings, the interior must be especially full and satisfying."
In demand around the world, Ando's architecture can be found around Japan and in Chicago, Paris, Mexico City, Milan , New York City and Shanghai among others.