Shaping light is something that seems all too simple for Architect Tadao Ando. Commissioned in 1987 and located in Ibaraki-Osaki, Japan, the Church of Light is a prime example of not only shaping light but how the simplistic nature of concrete can take on forms through light. The shape of the structure is simple–a box. The light that is emitted through the cruciform window gives the illusion that the massive, dense and heavy concrete quadrants are floating in space while the angled concrete wall is objectified, extending through the windows–through the light–slicing the volume, allowing the light to bleed in through the concrete’s reflectivity.
The Church of the Light consists a 5.9m concrete volumes(5.9m wide x 17.7m long x 5.9m high) that is cut by a freestanding concrete wall angled at 15°, dividing the box, creating a direct connection between the entrance and the church. The line created slices directly through the window, dividing it and highlighting the outline of the wall’s shape, literally objectifying the plane.
The mullions within the window second as a structural steel beam. This beam helps the wall to puncture, penetrate and extend through the volume. The concrete joints align perfectly with this detail, continuing the sight line of this detail.
When studying this intersection, the complexity of the process through which this detail was created was tricky and gave great insight as to the physical construction of the project. The site-cast concrete must have been cast around the intersecting structural beams however, I am critical of this process. It seems that by examining the image of the detail above, that there is some discoloration of the concrete where the penetration happens. It looks as though this concrete was added to give the illusion of the beam penetrating the wall. There also seems to be nearly an inch of filler/caulking around the beam so help stabilize and seal this detail. These hints indicate that the volume necessary for the beam to extend through the plane may have been cut out, then the beam was placed and sealed accordingly. Either-way, this detail provides us with an unorthodox and innovative way to utilize concrete while helping to re-define the traditional applications of the material.