03 December 2020

Tadao Ando guest editor of DOMUS 2021

Ten collector's issues dedicated to the eternality of emotions and memories

"As drastic as the changes underway may be, the fact remains that human beings are part of nature. We are ephemeral beings who delight in communion with others and live by our memories. Thus, the essential value of architecture must stay unchanged: to create a habitat for the human spirit, to hold memory and history, and to foster culture through the urban landscape," says Tadao Ando

Milan, 3 December 2020Domus continues its travels on the 10 x 10 x 10 route with Tadao Ando. The Japanese architect is the new guest editor, ready to creatively curate 10 issues of the magazine in 2021.

Tadao Ando is the fourth protagonist of the 10-year editorial formula by which 10 internationally famous architects will each be a guest editor for 10 issues of Domus magazine, leading up to its 100th anniversary. David Chipperfield is now passing the baton to Ando after having received it from Winy Maas, who succeeded Michele De Lucchi, the first guest editor to start the formula in 2018.

"We are honoured to have Tadao Ando on our team," says Maria Giovanni Mazzocchi, the president of Editoriale Domus, and the recipient of an Order of Merit for Labour. "With the Domus 10 x 10 x 10 formula, we wish to present each year a vision of the future – not an invitation to follow events, but to reveal them in advance. I am certain that the lucid world-view Tadao Ando has held throughout his career will be a great learning opportunity for our readers and the civic society that gathers around our publication. Like Ando, we too are convinced that architecture is able to change society, so we open the doors of our community to him and look forward to his arrival with the anticipation and enthusiasm of a new adventure about to begin."

As one of the best-known exponents of architecture in the world, Tadao Ando (Osaka, 1941) is distinguished by his capacity to evoke an inner world (a typical Japanese element) made in dialogue with Western techniques (like fair-faced reinforced concrete and big walls of glass) while using a constant component of strong geometry.

His quest is not simply to create residential solutions; rather it offers a mental state, a spiritual dimension that depends largely on our intuition. Ando's buildings bring us in touch with our "self", with the here and now of reality. His code is basic, and it represents an ode to beauty and the eternity of feelings.

Ando has chosen eternity as the underlying theme for the ten issues of Domus 2021. In his editorship manifesto he writes, "All things must one day weather and crumble. Architectural history is a trajectory of challenges against this truth. I would like to make eternity, an idea that humans have been pursuing since time immemorial, the theme of Domus 2021. Eternity here does not refer to the physical continuation or perpetuation of matter and form. Rather, it indicates the intangible emotions and memories that live in the hearts and minds of people. Eternity's universal nature is not innate but reliant upon humanity."

The human factor, the value of emotions and memories, the responsibility of the individual toward transformations, and our status as an integral part of nature – all are important components of the new guest editor's approach to his craft. His manifesto refers to the complexity of the contemporary world and the strength and power contained in design and architecture: "Collective ideas of eternity sprout in response to the era's atmosphere and continually blossom with the cultural nourishment produced by growing communities. Hence, these thoughts are forever preserved in our hearts and spirit. In other words, eternity is the product of an evolving zeitgeist. 

It is exceedingly difficult to understand what defines our era. The changes in the past ten years have been immensely rapid. Endless and drastic progressions in information technology have swallowed all of human society in the name of globalism, with network systems interwoven in every aspect of our daily lives. The Covid-19 pandemic, which forces people to implement social distancing as a countermeasure against virus infection, has accelerated these trends. We are in the middle of an upward sloping graph of significant change, like the industrial revolutions of centuries past. These shifts will likely continue to intensify and create a new world that we cannot even begin to fathom.  Architecture and design will likely undergo a remarkable transformation in industrial structures, production systems and methods of expression. The signs of these changes are already evident.  As drastic as these changes may be, the fact remains that human beings are part of nature. We are flesh-and-blood, ephemeral beings who delight in communion with others and live by our memories.

Thus, the essential value of architecture must stay unchanged, to create a habitat for the human spirit, to hold memory and history, and to foster culture through the urban landscape. It is precisely because the future is uncertain that we need to look at the very roots of creation, its eternal origins."

Born and raised in Japan during the postwar reconstruction, Ando led a varied and poetic life – including a stint as a prizefighting boxer – before becoming a self-taught architect. The parallelism between the discipline of sport and the discipline of tectonics, and the importance of conscientious, efficient conduct are lines of thought that our new guest editor peruses in the exclusive interview published in the Ando monograph, a supplement to Domus December.

"The tense moments waiting for the bell to ring in a boxing match are uplifting, yet nerve-racking. New building projects require the same mentality. In boxing, you must risk moving into danger in order to fully take advantage of your skills and eventually win the match. Creating something in architecture – not just building something, but creating something – also requires the courage to take risks. Taking that extra step forward into the unknown is vital. When you are a boxer, you prepare for years for rounds that will only last minutes. It's a fight, basic and primitive. Architecture, on the other hand, is a very long match, much longer than three minutes, but the tension must be maintained just as in boxing. Sometimes architects acquire a taste for fame and lose their discipline because they have forgotten the hunger of their early careers, when you are the only one you can rely on. Boxing is a sport of pure stoicism and solitude; in the process of pushing your body and mind to the absolute limit, power is generated. Architecture is the same. Each project has a strict programme and budget and there might be little freedom to design. You must think through what is truly necessary and what needs to be built."

As always, the coordinator of the new guest editor's work will be Walter Mariotti, the editorial director of the entire Domus structure and the continuity manager of the 10 x 10 x 10 initiative.  "Domus is unstoppable; its route continues to evolve, amaze and stimulate; it is without peers on the international editorial scene. The arrival of Tadao Ando confirms how global and relevant we are, and how central architecture and design are to the contemporary debate. The year 2020 has further reminded us how necessary and urgent it is to rethink the ways and forms of communal life – how we manage public space, how we work and how we get around. Tadao Ando is more than an immensely successful architect – he is an all-round intellectual, so for us, being able to count on his vision is a great honour. When I first asked him about his plan for Domus 2021, he answered, 'Through architecture and design, I would like to provide an opportunity to think about the core essence of human culture, about the elements that should stay constant as the world around us evolves.' This is an opportunity that Domus is delighted to welcome and share with all its readers" says Mariotti.

The first issue of Domus 2021 created by Tadao Ando will come out in early January.A monograph about Ando is being printed as a supplement to Domus December, a special issue edited by Fulvio Irace titled "Recovering Italy".


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