Church of the light Exterior

Church of the Light, Osaka by Tadao Ando

Church of The Light was designed by the architect Tadao Ando and was built with donations from members of the church. The budget was 25 million yen (about US$ 218.000). At first, Ando believed there was not enough money to complete the building. There might be enough to put up the walls but not to roof the church. He, therefore, imagined that there would be initially an open-air chapel, with the walls framing the sky.


The roof could be put up if enough donations were collected in four or five years’ time. In fact, the building construction was completed thanks to the enthusiasm of the members of the church and the construction company. Even in contemporary times, buildings are realised not just for economic reasons, but through enthusiasm and religious faith. This was an emotionally moving experience for the architect Tadao Ando.

Church’s Plan and Structure

The building is designed in a box-shape and large enough to inscribe three spheres 19 feet in diameter; the box is penetrated by a wall at a 15-degree angle. The diagonal wall, which is completely free-standing, divides the main space into the chapel and a vestibule. From the vestibule, we pass through an opening in the diagonal wall and, turning 18o degrees, find ourselves in the chapel. A cruciform slit in the wall at the far end of the chapel is bathed by the morning sun, creating a cross of light.

Also See: Chikatsu Asuka Historical Museum Design by Tadao Ando

Church of the light plan & sketch

The church is like the inside of a pinhole camera; the cross of light is dazzling.Light is the theme of this architectural phenomenon, but at the same time, creating darkness was important because light becomes radiant only against the backdrop of a profound darkness. Here, nature is rendered extremely abstract; it is limited only to light. Architectural space is purified.

Interior and Materials Used

The floor and the benches are made of rough wood planks normally used for scaffolding. Although this was made necessary by the limited budget, it has a positive effect in that we are made directly aware of the texture of the material. Ando is critical of the present tendency to eliminate materiality in architecture and to use character-less, artificial materials in the name of economic rationalism. He always uses natural materials for parts of the building with which people come into physical contact.

He believes that materials of a substance such as wood, stone, and concrete are important for architecture and that they enable us to sense the building directly through our bodies. The church design offers both representational nature and abstract nature. A rectilinear patch of light is cast on the floor; natural materials that appeal to the senses are left in darkness. Our spirits soar. Through light too, we are made to recognize in the most basic sense our relationship to nature.

Also Read: Church on the Water’s design by Tadao Ando

Among the material used for the construction of Church of light, the main elements are wood and reinforced concrete. The whole structure is made up of reinforced concrete, while wood is used for simpler elements such as a door, tables, and flooring.

Noboru Karukome, the minister of the church, is deeply satisfied with the building. “A Protestant church is simple to begin with. There is a little ornament. However, if that is taken too far, you end up with just a meeting hall. Ando did a magnificent job of designing and creating a ‘church’. I think he created a truly rich space.”

Sunday School’s Addition

Sunday School at Church of the Light

Ten years later, a Sunday school was added to the Church of the Light. The school is not a place of prayer but instead a facility equipped with a hall, a library, and a kitchen to support activities by members of the church. From the outside, the Sunday school and the church are a matched pair of forms, but inside, the school is finished in Japanese linden; the built-in furniture, too, is made if plywood boards faced with Japanese linden. Space is simply yet brightly illuminated.

Sunday school in the chapel serves more often as a gathering area, office, and storage. The school building boasts a homely appearance, with less religious importance. The Church of the Light interior has light space with a warm, soothing and lively atmosphere.

Final Words

This Church of light by Tadao Ando is a place where people can feel themselves retreating from their problems and worries of outside world. The church has a low-tech, simple yet powerful appearance due to its elegant design.

When entering the church, a wall has been placed which forces the visitor to take a left turn and finding themselves in an interstitial space. A right turn at the doorway in the wall lets the visitor into the main chapel. This makes the visitor to be left amazed and astound from the light coming from the opposite side of the wall, because of the minimal space between the walls, the light entering the chapel intensifies.