Religious / Spiritual Spaces
Temple – A Site of enlightenment in the mortal world;
The Pure Land in connection with the temporal world
In the spatial organization of traditional temple types, the alternating halls and courtyards are deployed in a symmetrical and sequential manner; all situated on the central axis, and each with its specific layering order: The vestibule – courtyard – the great hall – courtyard – the lecture hall – courtyard – the meditation room. Similarly, this project embodies such spirit of centrality in its programmatic layout as a whole, sequentially arranges the spaces: The portico (the vestibule) – courtyard – the great hall – courtyard – the minor hall.
As Buddhist teachings shall not be detached from lessons in the temporal world, the lecture hall shall simultaneously satisfy both daily living and Dharma teaching programs, thus providing a multifunctional space. From the very beginning, the service spaces (restrooms, staircases, and mechanicals) were designed as separated areas from the main programs, allowing the latter to be adjusted flexibly by the occupants as necessary; the use of space hence becomes not only freer but also more economical. At the same time, “bridges” as architectural elements are employed to connect these two distinctive types of spaces, serving as a metaphor of the transition and transformation from the secular to the spiritual in Buddhism.
To promote Buddha’s teachings, it is essential to extend oneself out to all living beings; the extension, in turn, could only occur after integration, integrating and accepting the existing condition and the surrounding environment. Following this logic, the columns of the exterior arcade are in line with the ones on the opposite side of the site by extension, not only continuing the urban fabric and streetscape, but also avoiding the“Corner” prohibition in Feng Shui traditions.
Materializing the spectacles of the teaching acts, the design not only alludes to the essence of Boundless Light and Infinite Light in the Infinite Life Sutra of Pure Land Buddhism, but also intends to represent The Buddha of Infinite Life’s Sukhavati, or the “Land of Bliss” – Diamond as Enclosure, Azurite as Ground.
Taking advantage of the distinct effects caused by refraction, which in turn resulted from the two glazed faces of the glass bricks, natural light penetrates through the solemn great hall, creating a luminous yet serene ambiance; on the other hand, through the reflection off the waterscape that surrounds the building, as well as off the two “Thousand Buddha Walls” that face each other with multiple lamps, artificial light produces a boundless and infinite spatial effect. Echoing the verse in the Amitabha Sutra: “In the Land of Bliss, the pond is filled with seven kinds of treasures, and fully contains eight kinds of merits,” the space offers the city inhabitants with a bright and enduring icon. By understanding and reimagining traditional Buddhist spatial organization, as well as incorporating the essence of Buddhist ideals, the project becomes yet another sanctuary for the mind and the soul in the urban center.