My recent posts at World-Architects


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Half Dose #43: Tile for Yu-un

With all the hoopla last week around Olafur Eliasson's "four man-made waterfalls, 90 to 120 feet high, [that] will punctuate New York’s waterfront for three months starting in mid-July," it seemed like an appropriate time to look at the Icelandic artists other environmental installations.

[photograph by Robert McLeod | image source]

One project -- rather far removed from both the East River in geography and scale -- that stands out is this courtyard "lining" for a house/gallery by Tadao Ando in Tokyo.

[image source]

With an obvious penchant for collecting art, client Takeo Obayashi named the place Yu-un, a combination of the Japanese characters for wonder and hermitage. It is a name that Ando says has quite a deep meaning, as can be expected.

[photograph by Robert McLeod | image source]

Ando's signature spare, concrete-and-glass spaces are punctuated in the middle of the N-shaped plan by Eliasson's 6,800+ platinum-glazed ceramic tiles, their surfaces changing in color and intensity depending upon the conditions of light.

[image source]

Where one usually finds in Ando's houses a center of calm and retreat, the courtyard here is a dynamic space activated by the reflection of natural and artificial light off the multi-faceted surfaces. Additionally, the views across the courtyard keep the ceramic tiles an almost constant presence in the multi-faceted life of the businessman-cum-art collector.

[photograph by Robert McLeod | image source]

:: Olafur Eliasson
:: Architectural Digest
:: New York City Waterfalls


  1. doesn't it remind us of Selfridges in Birmingham by FutureSystems?

  2. Does this mark the turn of Ando from clean ultra-stylish to tacky disco revival?

  3. Oh, good - platinum. I always try for platinum c.t., but the clients always cheap out on finishes...

  4. Very Kicht, but great texture!

  5. I used to work in advertising- TBWA - the guys who do the Apple Ads..I always remember the comment on Marie Catherine Dupuy co creative head - a star- when we went to dinner in a Gaudi home in Barcelona: far from admiring first the creativity = she said : waouh , Gaudi- what a guy - what a genius to have sold the idea to a client !!!
    It applies here congrats for the idea AND SELLING them !
    Love it - dream like

    Anne - My Urban garden deco

  6. Great to look at once or twice, but I have to imagine the allure wears off. It reminds me of the Q-Bert style traverine mosaics I have seen.

  7. I think that using the tiles is a great way to get natural light throughout the entire building. Having all of that light would make it a calming home.

  8. This is beautiful. I love how the light plays. The texture reminds me of the entrance to Vanity at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas:

    Daniel Ogassian ( designed the custom tile.


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