Somewhere on the outskirts of Tangshan, deep in a forest in the province of Hebei, China; there lies a subterranean haven, a place of peace and tranquility. A Buddhist shrine was created simply as a place of meditation; a destination in the middle of nowhere that acts a meditative getaway. Chinese firm, ARCHSTUDIO created this beautiful work of art, almost completely submerged in the ground with moments of relief that open up to moments of serenity as you confront nature.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
This building completely took us by storm as we laid our eyes on it. The pristine concrete walls, the delicate timber framed glass doors and the beautiful shards of light that pierce into the space were all breathtaking.
The thought of inhabiting this space is overwhelming, in fact, simply gazing at it through our screens evoke the tranquility and purity of mind that Buddha might have propagated… and we’re not even Buddhists. So, we decided to juxtaposition the images with Buddhists quotes on tranquility and meditation – just for effect.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and hoping for the other person to die”
The spatial arrangement was conceived as sprawling branches from a tree. The idea of a tree is very important; it was underneath a tree that Buddha attained enlightenment. All the trees around the site were maintained and incorporated into the construction process. Each of the five branches in the shrine represent a space of a specific function. Entrance, meditation room, tea room, bathroom and living room.
“There are only two mistakes you can make along the path of truth, not going all the way, and not starting.”
The shrine also represents nature in it’s most physical form; from the natural green roof to the concrete walls. The timber shuttering gives a natural feel to the solidity and tactility of the rustic wall. The furniture is also created to sit in harmony with the space, and the details are mostly composed of natural timber further upholding the concept of the tree.
“The past is already gone, the future is not here yet, the only time for you to live is now”
The movement flow between the spaces is the most important aspect of the experience. As you enter you experience the tea room and the shrine on either side, with the shrine illuminated from the top, facing a body of water. The connection between building and nature is tremendously seamless. As the designers explain, “it is a space with power of perception, where trees, water, Buddha and human coexist.”