At UPco, our team is passionate about the built environment, and we love seeing beautiful architecture come to life. We all have our favourite places – and this month, we asked Senior Associate Anna Thang to tell us about one that’s special to her.

Can you tell us a bit about the place you’ve chosen, Anna?

Yes! The place I’ve chosen as my favourite (and it was a tough decision) is the Church of the Light in Japan. As the name suggests, it’s a church, and it’s located in the residential area of Ibaraki, 25km outside of Osaka.

The church was designed by one of my favourite architects, Tadao Ando, who is known for buildings that are deliberate in their simplicity – and the Church of the Light is a great demonstration of this. Commissioned as an extension to an existing church compound, Ando’s Church of the Light is essentially a concrete cube intersected by a wall plane that creates the entry way into the chapel. On the eastern side, a cross has been cut into the wall, allowing light to penetrate the otherwise dim interior. As the light changes throughout the days and seasons, the crucifix light form moves in response.

Like most of Ando’s work, the Church of the Light plays with the notion of contrasts: in this case, between light and dark, solid forms and voids, and the physical and spiritual worlds. The idea was to strip away traditional Christian motifs and create a more humble, meditative place of worship – a place that invites occupants to explore their internal spirituality.

Have you visited the Church of the Light? What was your experience like?

Not yet, but it’s on the list! Until I can pull off that next trip to Japan, I can fortunately get a fix of Tadao Ando here in Melbourne at this Summer’s MPavilion, which he was commissioned to design. Located in Queen Victoria Gardens, MPavillion offers a taster of Ando’s genius, and also acts as a hub for a whole heap of events and activations. It’s open until 28 March 2024 – well worth checking out!

What do you love about the building?

The sharp simplicity of it! Just genius. 

Why does the Church of the Light interest you from a planning perspective?

I love the way religious buildings have to be designed to be functional, while also spiritually inspiring. They need to cater to both the individual and the community, and be able to accommodate private and public events. I’ve had first-hand experience of the planning considerations that come with church projects, having been involved with a few at UPco, including the Coptic Church currently under construction along Epsom Road, Kensington. It’s a beautiful project and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in person when it’s completed! 

To find out more about Tadao Ando’s work, visit – and for the details on MPavilion, visit (we’ll see you there!).