ARCHITECTURE: Church of the Light

Tadao Ando’s signature architectural work, embrace’s his minimalistic philosophy and surpasses every religious symbol. As if the light is all you need.

Text: Mary Giatra


One of the most beautiful architectural works and a solid proof that nature and architecture can define and create new spatial perceptions when they complement each other, this church has given a whole new meaning to spirituality and religion. Tadao Ando, famous for his usual pallet of inexpensive materials such as reinforced concrete and wood, completed this work in 1989 as a renovation to an existing Christian compound in Ibaraki, Japan and his design aesthetic managed to remove any distinction of traditional Christian motifs, creating a more humble and meditative place of worship.

For the Japanese architect, the Church of the Light is an architecture of duality. Solid and void, light and dark, stark and serene. The intersection of light and solid lets the light travel in the space by itself, telling its own stories. Besides an extruded cross from the east facing facade, the church is composed of a concrete shell that adds to the darkness and simplicity. As a modern. minimalist structure, its’ perfection is found in the details. The concrete construction and the wooden elements are immaculate. When exposed to natural light, the concrete is given a luminous quality and the space changes as the sun moves throughout the day, becoming a vivid, illuminated box.


“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.”



photos: architecture associate and archdaily