Buddist Temples in Korea are mostly situated deep within the mountains. Typically known as “San-sa” (Mountain Temples), an individual approaches by slowly walking in the mountain, passing the Iljumun Gate (One Pillar Gate), Sacheonwangmun Gate (The Four Devas Gate), Geumgangmun Gate and Burimun Gate and right after entering below the Pavilions, the individual faces the Entry court of Daeungjeon Hall (Main Buddha Hall) and finally Buddha. The San-sa (Mountain Temples) is quite attractive since Daeungjeon, The main core of the Temple, is indirectly visible when it seems to be easily noticeable but the location does not appear at first glance and is only experienced by coming around the temple. Due to this great impact, though a magnificent temple gets built within the city, the feeling is not extreme or same as much as you would feel at a Sansa (Mountain Temple).
Architect Lee Sung Kwan has brought the San-sa’s (Mountain Temple’s) attractive features into the Temples located within the city. The architect expressed the series of Architectural Promenade’s linear experimental spaces at San-sas by compressing and integrating the procedure into various layers and levels.
When you first face the building, a single façade filled with words and phrases, a canopy indicating the entry and a 108 colonnade is visible. While following the 108 colonnades along the slope you then arrive at the entrance of the museum. As you enter the museum, a Water feature court harmoniously designed with the mountain beyond is seen along with the bright shining light gracefully entering the space. At a glance, the final destination is seen at upper levels and as you turn around towards and up the stairs Daeungjeon is located behind and the exhibition space is located on the right. As the steps lead down to Daeungjeon, you enter the space by crossing a bridge. By the natural sunlight from the sky, the glowing Statues of Buddha awaits the Buddhism believers.
The sequence of experience from the main entrance of the building to the Daeungjeon resembles the Mountain Temple’s (San-sa) architectural promenade. Finally, an attractively compelling space was reborn within the city by elaborately arranging the natural features scattered at the Mountain Temples (San-sa) which creates a beautiful atmosphere.
“Through the Canopy and 108 colonnades which represents the Iljumun Gate (One Pillar Gate) the visitor experiences a shift/transition to a different territory by allowing incremental spatial experience. When you stand at the Main Hall, to the North you encounter a water feature court which contains the ever-changing nature and beyond a glimpse of Daemosan Mountain is seen. Towards the far South the visitor faces an urban landscape over the 108 colonnades, which the visitor has walked through.
The Main Hall and the North Water feature zone is the main, first variable space which can be connected to the auditorium for various events to act as one spacious zone. The stair which connects the third floor exhibition space and Buddhist Service area acts as a second transition zone for another symbolic space indicating the transition to a different territory and not as a functional unit which simply connects the circulation from upper/lower floors.
As you walk up the Stairs placed against the Water Feature Court you enter the exhibition place. And to maximize the experience within the limited exhibition space as you go beyond the long linear, narrow entrance and around the vertical colonnade space you enter the exhibition area. And across the exhibition area is the Buddhist sermon/service area. You have now arrived at the space which considers being the third transition zone by facing the Statue of Buddha gently shined with natural light coming through the ceiling beyond the bridge surrounded by wood louvers.
The Buddhist Service area is a square Volume that floats within a spacious rectangular auditorium. It is the second variable area of a ‘space within a space’ for the mobility and connects with the auditorium as one to interact and commune with one another as a missionary work zone.”
As described above by the Architect, The water feature Court is a variable/multi-functional space where on daily basis provides light and landscape scenery to the interior but during special events the space opens up and expands the auditorium for people to hear the Buddhist Sermon. The function of the Water Feature Court changes its function as the Traditional Architecture’s court had multiple functions as an event space, playground and provide light to the Taechong Maru (Main Floored Room).
The Buddhist Service Area which floats within the auditorium allows communicating to each other through the windows while the auditorium itself unites the water feature space and the Buddhist Service area as a central space.
The Tanheo Memorial Museum reinterprets the Tradition with Architectural promenades, space within a space and variable space and is reborn as a multi-functional space of ‘exhibition + education + Sermon’ space at a limited site.
Written by MK Kim, Translator Boo Jang
Architects: HANUL Architects&Engineers Inc.
Location: Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Architect In Charge: Sungkwan Lee
Site Area: 1,984.28㎡