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Architects: Archstudio

Location: Tangshan, Hebei, China

Project Type: Religious Building

Land Area: about 500 ㎡

Building Area: 169㎡

Year: 2017

Photography: Wang Ning, Jin Weiqi
Design Time: 2015.04—2015.08

Construction Time: 2015.10—2017.01

Architectural Design: Han Wenqiang, Jiang Zhao, Li Xiaoming

Structural Design: Zhang Fuhua

Water-electricity Design: Zheng Baowei

Author: Han Wen-Qiang

Waterside Buddhist Shrine

This is a place for Buddhist mediation, thinking and contemplation, as well as a place that satisfies the needs of daily life. The building is located in the forest by the riverside. Along the river there is a mound, behind which is a great stretch of open fields and sporadic greenhouses. The design, which began with the connection between the building and nature, 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 humans coexist – is thus created.

To preserve trees along the river perfectly intact, the building plan avoids all tree trunks. The shape of the plan looks like branches extending under the existing forest. Five separate and continuous spaces are created within the building by two axes: one that runs north-south and another along the river. The five“branches”represent five spaces with different functions: entrance, Buddhist meditation room, tea room, living room and bathroom. All together, they form a strolling-style experience.

Site plan


The building remains close to the trees and natural scenery. The entrance faces two trees; people walk into the building through a narrow path under the trees. The shrine is against the wall and facing the water, where the light and the shadow of the trees filter through the skylight and flow into the interior space softly along the curved wall, exaggerating the light of Buddha. The tea room opens completely onto the pool which is filled with lotus; and trees on both sides of the tea room have become part of the courtyard, creating a fun atmosphere for tea tasting and sight-viewing. The lounge is separated from other parts of the building by a bamboo courtyard; this division allows for variation in daily life at different times of day. The whole building is covered with earth and becomes an extension of the land, like another“mound”that can be used under the trees.

The relationship with nature further extends into the use of materials. Integral concreting is used in the walls and roof of the building. The concrete formwork is pieced together with pine strips of 3cm in width. In this way, the natural wood grain and vertical linear texture are impressed on the interior surface, creating a soft and warm feeling to the cold concrete materials

Built-in furniture is custom-made with wood strips, whose grey wood grain is a little bit different from the concrete walls. Smooth terrazzo is used for the interior floor, where there is a thin grain of stone on the surface, and it maps the outdoor natural landscape onto the interior space. Cement grouting with white pebbles is adopted for the outdoor flooring, which creates a tactile difference between the indoor and outdoor floors. To reflect the natural texture of the materials, solid wood is used for all doors and windows. Zen emphasizes complying with nature and being part of nature. That is also the goal of the design for this space – making use of space, structure and materials 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.


Detail section
Building process


Architects: Archstudio

Location: Tangshan, Hebei, China

Project Type: Religious Building

Land Area: about 500 ㎡

Building Area: 169㎡

Year: 2017

Photography: Wang Ning, Jin Weiqi

urbanNext (April 19, 2024) Waterside Buddhist Shrine. Retrieved from
Waterside Buddhist Shrine.” urbanNext – April 19, 2024,
urbanNext May 23, 2017 Waterside Buddhist Shrine., viewed April 19, 2024,<>
urbanNext – Waterside Buddhist Shrine. [Internet]. [Accessed April 19, 2024]. Available from:
Waterside Buddhist Shrine.” urbanNext – Accessed April 19, 2024.
Waterside Buddhist Shrine.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: April 19, 2024]

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