Nanquan Temple Project


In the mountainous region south west of Chiz-hou City (Anhui province, China), there was once a Zen temple that existed until the 1960’s; Nanquan. Dating back to the years of 795, during the Tang dynasty, the temple was occupied as a training ground where agriculture and meditation combined. This master plan project is a creative restoration of a once existing temple. We have noticed in Chinese temples and villages the common understanding of the natural environment. In response our main concept, through four different expressions is, ‘Architecture as a small village’.

The first is the ‘Main Area’, of where the name ‘Nansenzenji’ is derived from. ‘Nansen’, meaning ‘fountain in the south’, originates from where the archeological remains of the ‘Daio ho-den Hall’ was found. Mountains and a pair of trees are placed in formation in a north-south axis, leading up to the mountain gates and the primary hall behind it. Studying Toshodaiji temple’s (Nara, Japan) gentle curve of the hipped roof structure, the highest of design aesthetics have been awarded; aiming to build an architecture that juxtaposes nature and upholds its own identities.

The second is the ‘Zen Area’, where meditation is predominantly taken place. Presented with breathtaking views of natural landscape and its reflection on water, visitors are welcomed to reflect upon themselves, irrelevant of their religious beliefs. A simplistic approach had be presented, as to fade the architecture into its backdrop.              The third is the ‘Tower area’, acting as a reception for this project. The stone pagoda and the wooden ‘Busshari’ pagoda (influenced by the Japanese Tamamushi minature shrines) are placed where they catch one’s most attention. With sufficient space surrounding the temples, we have attempted to blur the lines between nature and architecture.

The fourth, is the ‘Hillside Area’ which encompasses different personalities to the three areas before. Once a quarry, the reminiscent stone wall, raw in form, represents the mindlessness of the human thought. Here, nature is in need of healing. In contrast to the deformity of man-made nature, a proposal to reintroduce nature, together with a thoroughly designed piece of architecture, serves to prompt cooperation over time.