On a beautiful sunny afternoon in March, some of our Wollongong team attended the Property Council of Australia’s event at the newly built Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre. We were treated to some delicious vegetarian canapés, prepared by the Institute’s chefs, after which we toured the building’s three levels and roof terrace.
Wollongong City Council sold the land for one dollar to the Fo Guang Shan University Consortium who founded the Institute, and are affiliated with the Nan Tien Temple across the highway. The land is a former tip, and cost around $10million to remediate, prior to any building work commencing. The project, funded entirely by donations, incorporates teaching and learning spaces for University level courses based on the principles of Humanistic Buddhism.
The educational institution, designed by Woods Bagot, is the embodiment of a lotus flower, with precast white concrete panels representing the petals, and the organically shaped cutouts featured throughout the building, referencing the form of the lotus seed pod. The pod motif is carried through from plan to section, with large voids surrounding four clusters of enclosed offices and other rooms.
The Institute’s literature notes that the language of the building was inspired by Buddhist principles. “In keeping with the Humanistic Buddhist teachings of Fo Guang Shan, the architecture avoids hierarchy, is of the now, values the void and provides a neutral environment devoid of excess and materialism.”
The teaching spaces at the Nan Tien Institute were put to the test last week when our founding Director, Mark Jones, presented his philosophy on architectural design to a gathering of regional architects and students. Mark said that,
It was a privilege to be talking to fellow architects about our recent project, the Nowra Super Clinic inspired by the Shoalhaven River, in such an inspirational building which also references nature in the design.