Tadao Ando’s Church of The Light

“Light, alone, does not make light. There must be darkness for light to become light – resplendent with dignity and power. Darkness, which kindles the brilliance of light and reveals light’s power, is innately a part of light.” Tadao Ando

Completed in 1989, The Church of The Light is probably the most famous of all the churches that world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed. Some of his other works include the Churches of Wind, Water and Sea.  

 

Photograph © Copyright Adam Friedberg.

The main feature of The Church of The Light is its cross-shaped aperture, that the light streams through, Ando wanted the believers that came there to be united by this powerful symbol. This also helps with the effect that he wanted to achieve for the people who came to the chapel, to be able to see the after image of the cross when the visitor closes their eyes. 

Photograph © Copyright Richard Pare.

 Being the main source of light in the building, it almost transforms the smooth reinforced concrete walls into dark shadowy volumes that accentuate the brilliant light coming in from the slits of the cross. Ando said “Light, alone, does not make light. There must be darkness for light to become light – resplendent with dignity and power. Darkness, which kindles the brilliance of light and reveals light’s power, is innately a part of light.” 

Photograph © Copyright Adam Friedberg.

The budget for the church was relatively low, only about $250.000 USD in construction costs and was made with mostly inexpensive materials like wood and reinforced concrete. The geometry for the church is nothing more than six walls and a roof, a very minimalist design that eliminated anything that was not relevant. 

Image © Copyright Julie Chandler.

The Chapel consists of a rectangular-shaped main building that is punctured by a wall at a fifteen-degree angle that doesn’t touch any other walls or ceiling of the chapel, the flow of people in and out of the building is controlled by this wall. This angled wall also helps control the amount of light let into the rectangular box that is the chapel by keeping the number of openings to a minimum, by doing this the light from the cross is intensified. 

 

Ando said “Light is the origin of all being. Light gives, with each moment, new form to being and new interrelationships to things, and architecture condenses light to its most concise being. The creation of space in architecture is simply the condensation and purification of the power of light.”   

 

Photograph © Copyright Adam Friedberg.

For the outside, Ando reduced the religious symbols that are on the building to just the main cross extrusion and one other solitary small cross that hangs on the side of the building, other than these it would be hard to identify the building as a church at all. 

This church is a simple building that did the best with the budget and materials it had. Its bold minimalist design and incredible use of light is a testament to the phrase “less is more”. 

 

Here is a ‘How to Build’ video if you’d like to build an Arckit model representation of Church of The Light. Happy Building!