Architecture of Silence (text in both German and English) is a collaboration between architect Tadao Ando and photographer Werner Blaser. While providing a brief overview of Ando's career and activities up through 2000, the focus of this monograph is the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum complex, built in 1988-95. Located on a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan, this project of austere concrete and exquisite stonework perfectly captures the serene essence of Ando's architecture: geometrical lines merge with cylindrical structures where sky, land, sea, and mountains converge.
The post-modernists will undoubtably dismiss Ando's clean modesty of forms as "boring", and minimalists will rave about the introspective interaction between art and nature, and draw comparisons with Mies van der Rohe. Ando is his own man, however, and does not fit neatly into any category or "-ism". Working out of Osaka, his influences are worldwide, his work is adverse to marketing and media hype, and his legacy will be one of timelessness.
Blaser's photographs (mostly in atmospheric black-and-white) effectively illustrate the project's almost spiritual other-worldliness from many different vantage points. The mountains, sea, and sky are always in the background, and Ando's unostentatious lines never detract from Naoshima's natural environment. No monolithic "art cathedral", this museum complex is both solemn yet welcoming, monastic yet invigorating. The intricate stonework alone classifies this project as a must-see masterpiece. Sketches, floor and site plans, and a "thank you" essay from Souichiro Fukutake, the museum's director, are also included.