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Flood of ideas at water museum

Ando: uses water as a symbol
Ando: uses water as a symbol

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OSAKA, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese architect Tadao Ando has created a museum that celebrates water.

The Sayamaike Historical Museum shows the growth of the oldest and largest reservoir in Japan as part of its investigation into how the ancient Japanese used water.

"I try to use water as a symbol in my work, not only as something beautiful or something decorative, but I try to emphasise its importance," Ando told CNN.

Ando hoped the Osaka museum, opened in 2001, would help visitors think about the skills of Japanese ancestors.

"We wanted to build a museum to show the layers of the banks which have been altered by different generations.

"These are the kind of museums I want to create and give people the chance to consider environmental issues."

Most of Ando's projects have been in Japan, concentrated mainly in the Osaka area where he was born. He has designed religious structures, museums, offices, factories, a shopping centre and houses.

Ando, 63, is best known for his work in concrete, including the Church of Light, also in Osaka.

The church is a concrete box, with glazed slits piercing and intersecting the wall behind the altar, allowing sunlight to form a bright cross in the otherwise darkened interior.

"I created a cross verging on the surface of water where people can put their minds together. Nature is very powerful," Ando said.

"We are reminded that we live in the natural environment and that water and light play a very important role."

Ando, a self-taught architect, also uses wood, iron, steel and glass.

"Wood decays and concrete will degrade eventually, they will collapse. People do not decay, but they become old.

"Architecture also becomes old. So I try to design buildings to grow old in a positive way so the people's spirit and architecture becomes one."

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