Tadao Ando : Punta della Dogana

Tadao Ando
Punta della Dogana

Floornature, July 6, 2009
This interview was made by www.floornature.com

I think that architecture is a place where people get inside of it and they perceive and think about their existence


Tadao Ando (born in Osala in 1941.)

Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana


C.G.: Tradition & Contemporaneity


We are here in Venice, at the opening of Punta della Dogana, the new centre for contemporary art of the Pinault Foundation, your latest project here in Venice after Palazzo Grassi in 2005. Would you like to describe us the relationship between you and this city?



Tadao Ando:
Well, first I have to say that it was in the '90's that I started with a project with Benetton, so now it's about twenty years since then, so that was the first time I worked here in Italy. But then, in this very occasion, for this project that I'm doing in Punta della Dogana I was actually very surprised that I was asked to do such a thing, because you know this is the old customs house and on the other side of the lagoon there's the Palladio's architecture and there's also St. Mark square so this is a building from the 15th century, so I felt I was both surprised and I also felt a bit of a tension.

Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/typical inside view sketch
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/typical inside view sketch


C.G.: That's very understandable I guess, by the way, since we're here and you mentioned the project and the surroundings of this building, how did you manage to blend the traditional elements with the contemporary features of this project?



T.A.: So, you know, when it came to this project I had to think about two main things, one was to protect the old building and to safeguard it and the other was to give something contemporary, a contemporary element of architecture. 
So, from this point of you I had to think about these two very important elements, the first one, as I said, was to protect, to maintain this very old building in its beauty, so this is why I decided to create a team, an Italian team of engineers,
of specialists that could help me in order to safeguard, to protect this building.
From the other side, I also wanted to do something that was a project for the future and this is when I decided to have something contemporary, also from the architectonic point of view, so when I decided to do this I wanted to have these two elements, the old and the new, clash together with no compromises.




Tadao Ando_Getty Images
Tadao Ando_Getty Images


Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/P.della Dogana
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/P.della Dogana


C.G.: Since we are here in the heart of your building, the heart of your project, which is The Cube, we have the sensation, the feeling that we might be in a typical venetian campo, that probably is because of the light, the material and most of all I think about the pavement. 
Was this your intention? Can you explain it to us?



T.A.: Yes, you're right. We have to think that squares are amazing places. You don't know what's going to happen in a square. So it's a place of dialogue, of dialogue among people, there are many people that can have dialogues in a square but also in this very case it can be a dialogue between contemporary art, architecture and an old building, so using the concept of a square I wanted to send a message to the world, which in this case is dialogue, thinking of all human beings together.





Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/The new interior at Punta della Dogana in Venice
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/The new interior at Punta della Dogana in Venice


C.G.: Context & Content


Speaking about environment, you've designed a number of museums throughout the world in several cities, and for these projects you won many prizes as well. Generally, while you were designing these buildings were you more influenced by the environment, the context or the content of what the museum would have to contain?



T.A.:
You know, when I do a project I want to create something which is unique for that place. So, let's talk about Punta della Dogana, this was a building from the 15th century but, at the same time, you have the light of the sun, the sunlight, you also have the sea and I wanted in this very place to create something that could use all of these elements, all together. So when I do something, I do something that is unique for that place alone. 




Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Untitled 2007, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan_Alberto Pizzoli-AFP-Getty Images
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Untitled 2007, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan_Alberto Pizzoli-AFP-Getty Images


C.G.: Talking about content, at this point, I would like to talk about Pinault, your relationship with François Pinault. I guess in a way, he opened the doors of Venice to your work and to your projects. How did this special collaboration start?



T.A.: Twenty years ago I was introduced by Carl Albert to François Pinault and that was how our relationship started, and from that time I also performed, made some projects in France, then Palazzo Grassi and now Punta della Dogana, so I like to point out that I have a very strong relationship especially for what regards trust with François Pinault. Also because I respect him very much because he is a great collector of modern and contemporary art and, at the same time, he is a very intelligent and smart manager, so he has these very big qualities. At the same time, I have to say that for this very project, this came out in a moment of financial crisis so I know that this also had some concerns for him, for Mr. Pinault, because this was not certainly a moment to invest, yet he supported me single-handedly and that is something that I truly appreciate.




Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/The new interior at Punta della Dogana in Venice
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/The new interior at Punta della Dogana in Venice


C.G.: Well, I think the sign of his appreciation is definitely the two museums that you have designed for him. Going back in time in 2005, when you completed Palazzo Grassi, can you trace the similarities or the major differences between the two projects, obviously I'm talking about Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana.



T.A.: You know, Palazzo Grassi was from the beginning a museum,
was a museum already, so this also the reason why what I did was 
to re-produce, re-create an environment that could be right for that place, because it was a building from the 17th century so what I did it was like polishing its cover, it was just to re-create this atmosphere. This one, this was not a museum at the beginning, this was a building from the 15th century, what I wanted to do was to preserve all the walls but, at the same time, I also wanted to have a challenge with architecture and also this is the reason why I wanted to turn this building and I can say that in this very case, for this very building I also put inside some of my own architecture.

Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


C.G.: Speaking about your "own architecture" I cannot avoid to mention your sign in architecture which I think is your personal use of concrete, which has influenced most of the new generations of architects.
I'd like to know which is the material, among the innovative ones, that you like and prefer to work with today. 



T.A.: You know, we're actually people from the 20th century, so what were the most used materials of the 20th century? It was iron, concrete and glass, so concrete has been used so much that it has been called like the marble of the 20th century. So what I wanted to do was to use a material that anybody can use but to make an architecture that nobody else could do. This is the reason why I wanted to have this building from the 15th century linked to the 20th century, 
I wanted to create an architecture with this material that nobody else could make.

Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


C.G.: Can you describe the philosophy of your work in one statement?



T.A.: I think that architecture is a place where people get inside of it and they perceive and think about their existence. So if you're in San Marco, and you're there you think "right, now I am in San Marco" so you perceive your existence inside San Marco, or if you go inside a Palladio building, you do the same, so is a place where people must get inside and think "I'm happy to be alive!" 




Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum


Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.
Tadao Ando Punta della Dogana/Punta della Dogana Museum.


www.palazzograssi.it