12. Jan 2015

Buddhism translated into contemporary architecture

Photos: Jeffrey Cheng

“It is a Flower in Space, Moon in Water“(Master Sheng Yen)

When designing the Buddhist Water-Moon Monastery in Taipei/Taiwan, the prime goal of the lighting designers from chroma33 and the architects from Kris Yao Artech was to create a spiritual place using as few materials as possible, the idea being to translate Buddhism into architecture.  The designers based their concept for the new building on the visions of Master Sheng Yen, founder of the monastery and the Dharma Drum Buddhist Group. Master Sheng Yen saw the monastery as a flower in space, and a moon reflected in water. The sunlight that filters into the interior through perforated screens has the delicate aesthetic of a flower. After dark the monastery is reflected in an 80-metre long pond, symbolising the reflected moon.

On the ground floor of the building, which is located on a highway, daylight streams into the Grand Hall through a glass wall. The upper part of the facade comprises a massive wooden wall with carved out Chinese characters that relate the most popular Buddhist scripture, the Heart Sūtra. As the light shines through the perforations the characters appear in light on the columns and room surfaces, enhancing the calm, spiritual atmosphere. The wall behind the Buddha altar contains niches with tiny Buddhas lit by LEDs. At night the Grand Hall is illuminated and reflected in the water outside.

The light characters that relate the Heart Sūtra inspire the space with Buddha’s teachings: spiritual light indeed.

Project team:‌

Client: Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Foundation
Lighting design: chroma33 Architectural Lighting Design
Architects: Kris Yao ‌‌Artech – Hua-Yi Chang, Kuo-Lung Lee, Wen-Li Liu, Jen-Ying Kuo, Yvonne Lee, Chin Tai, Jun-Ren Chou, Yi-Heng Lin, David Chang


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