IN: Inspiration

Concrete meets nature

Buddhist shrine in China features concrete spaces that were built to exist in harmony with nature.


Designed by Beijing-based Arch Studio, the Buddhist shrine near the city of Tangshan, was designed as a place for Buddhist meditation, thinking and contemplation. The design was informed by Buddhist ideas about the need for humans and nature to exist in harmony, which meant that the structure was to cause minimal disruption to the existing landscape.

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“Zen stresses on complying with nature and being part of nature,” explain the architects.

“That is also the goal of the design for this space – making use of space, structure and material to stimulate human perception, thus helping man and building to find the charm of nature even in an ordinary rural landscape, and to coexist with nature.”

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In keeping with this idea, the architects submerged the building beneath a mound of earth covered with grass that helps it to disappear into the landscape of fields, trees and water.

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“The design started from the connection between the building and nature,” says Arch Studio, “and adopts the method of earthing to hide the building under the earth mound while presenting the divine temperament of nature with flowing interior space.

“A place with power of perception where trees, water, Buddha and human coexist is thus created,” they further explain about the design.

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The entrance leads into a space accommodating the tea room on one side and the shrine on the other. The shrine is positioned facing towards the water, with the skylight illuminating a statue of Buddha and the curved concrete walls.

Throughout the interior materials were chosen to further emphasise the design’s relationship with nature. The concrete surfaces, for example, are cast using a formwork comprising three-centimetre pine strips that introduce a natural grain and linear texture.

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Arch Studio was founded by Han Wen-Qiang in 2010, and alongside the Buddhist shrine, the practice has also completed an organic food-processing factory informed by China’s Hutong housing and a residential extension featuring a perforated-steel staircase.

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