The Fang Zhang Building, an organic unity of form and content. Space inspired by the kong-vacuum concept in order to transcend the mundane
Inside Tongbai Palace, one of the most important traditional Taoist temples in China, the reconstruction of the water reservoir gives occasion for the birth of the Fangzhang Building: from Taoist parlance the "place where the immortals live," the building with highly symbolic architecture accommodates visitors as they arrive and the daily practice of the master
Symbolically located in the 2nd level of the "8 layers of the mountain," the one where the immortal practice but also the one closest to the human world, the Fangzhang Building stands at the top of the courtyard of the Tongbai Palace temple complex. For KiKi ARCHi studio, which is designing the new building, integrating modern design language based on traditional style becomes the focus of the work
The architects decide to use the Taoist concept of emptiness - "KONG" - as a guide to express that of wisdom, and merge it into the design of the space as the 'Qingjing Jing' wrote: 'For ones able to eliminate desires, when look into their hearts, there is no thought to arise; when they see objects, there is no shape to describe; when they view faraway environment, there is nothing to see; since these three exist no more, only true self to be seen. If one sees emptiness (KONG) without the thought of such emptiness (KONG), he will take such emptiness (KONG) to its extreme.' "For those able to eliminate desires, when they look into their hearts, there is no thought to think; when they see objects, there is no form to describe; when they see a distant environment, there is nothing to see; ... there is the only true Self to see. If one sees emptiness (KONG) without the thought of such emptiness (KONG), it will take such emptiness (KONG) to its extreme."
The Fangzhang Building in its three-story height uses concrete and cedar columns as the main structure, combined with stone walls, glass facades and windows that change shape from heavy to light from bottom to top. The vertical columns are infinitely close to the sky, and the roofs in four directions seem to float in the air, which exactly explains the 'hollowness' (KONG). It is worth mentioning that the design of the roof and its shape have been simplified, eliminating the traditional eave decoration. Traditional gray tiles are used on the roof, in keeping with the architectural complex, but the details are different
The contemporary design language used, an abstract fusion of Taoist thought and spirit, express the concept of transcending the mundane. Visitors enter from the ground floor and look up through the circular skylight to find a plaque bearing the word 'Fangzhang'.
The shape of the skylight represents the ancient Chinese philosophy of 'round sky, square earth.' On the second floor, a viewing platform for meditation overlooks the water tank and brings one closer to nature. Its cedar wood ceiling extends in eight directions responding to the 'eight directions' of the Taoist concept of space
The courtyard on the second floor of the Fangzhang Building is specially equipped with artificial landscapes enriched with water and vegetation. Water and wood are full of energy and the space gets freshness and vitality from them. This area also has a function of regulating temperature and light. The pool is designed to reduce the heat load on the ground floor, and the circular skylight in the center introduces natural light. The materials used in the building are all local contributing to the green building concept and expressing humanistic feelings. The organic unity of form and content has been achieved