SOME/ARCHITECTURE : 'ABSENCE / PRESENCE' TADAO ANDO'S MEDITATION SPACE
“Life is not a thing, a philosophical entity: it is an attitude of mind towards what is being observed.” — N.W. Pine
The meditation space was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, to UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 1995. It chose a site next to the Japanese garden designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1958, to create the space for prayer. This is an abstract space that suggests loneliness and spiritual freedom. Nature has a key role in this work. Ando used architecture as a mediator between the natural environment and man, and find the direct meeting between them. Light, water and air are essential to the idea of Ando, evoking the natural world.
The Ensō (circle) is a sacred symbol in the Zen school of Buddhism and is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy and it has influenced Ando’s work and vocabulary of architecture. The circle drawn by Zen-Budhists symbolizes emptiness, oneness and the moment of enlightenment. Ando sees the most important thing is to integrate physical architecture with eternal nature, so that people can perceive nature in their process of dwelling, such as the motions of the sun, the moon, the earth and meteorological changes. The body of his work is known for the creative use of natural light and for structures that follow natural forms of the landscape, rather than disturbing the landscape by making it conform to the constructed space of a building. The religious term Zen, focuses on the concept of simplicity and concentrates on inner feeling rather than outward appearance. Zen influences vividly show in Ando’s work and became its distinguishing mark.
The Meditation Space was constructed with concrete, providing a sense of cleanliness and weightlessness at the same time. Due to the simplicity of the exterior, construction and organization of the space are relatively potential in order to represent the aesthetic of sensation.