Tadao Ando's thatched art retreat

The Pritzker laureate pairs Mexican vernacular building techniques with his signature concrete castings
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Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando
Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando

Eastern sensibilities meet Latin American exuberance in a new project by Tadao Ando. He's the architect behind a new cultural foundation in the Pacific state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Casa Wabi is the brainchild of the Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. Its aim, he says, is "to promote the exchange of ideas, fostering an open and constructive dialogue between national and international artists in a variety of practices and disciplines".

 

Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando
Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando

Standing in 67 acres, the multi-disciplinary residential arts centre includes an 8,000-square-foot art gallery, a multi-purpose room, half a dozen studio-dorms, two one-room meditation structures, and a sculpture garden.

The 72-year-old Pritzker Prize-winning architect combined his trademark material - concrete - with a local construction technique - palapa. This style of thatching with grasses is carried out by skilled artisans.

"I used palapa in order to preserve the identity of the local culture and the local landscape," says Ando. Although this was his first experience with the technique, it shares some elements with traditional Japanese thatching, called kayabuki. Ando has designed the lot, even the swimming pool and the furniture - except the 30ft-long dining table, carved from a singe tree trunk, which was created by Bosci.

 

Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando
Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando

"The site presents a very grand contrast, with the endless beach view on one side and the mountain view on the other," he says. "This project was rich in identity despite its many challenges."

The name Casa Wabi derives from the Japanese term 'wabi sabi', which means the art of finding beauty in imperfection, in accidents and in the depth of nature.

 

Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando
Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando

Bosci's plan is to make the foundation's resources available to the local community, many of who live in poverty. "The children in these communities have no contact with art," he says, "The idea is to bring them to see the studios, the nursery, the gardens and to open their understanding of life."

 

Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando
Casa Wabi by Tadao Ando

For more on this important architect, buy our Ando monograph; this stunning photographic portfolio of his work; or take a look at his page on the Phaidon Atlas, our peerless online architectural resource.


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