Golden Ridge Upper-cloister is located at the foot of the Great Wall at the junction of Beijing and Chengde. Strictly speaking, it is not a Zen temple, but a place for people to meditate in the context of traditional Zen and contemporary culture.
The intention of the design is first implicit in the careful site-selection. Located in a col facing the Great Wall to the southwest, the site also faces Beijing. This is similar to the positioning of Foguang Temple in Shanxi Wutai Mountain whose Great East Hall faces the valley - the direction of Chang'an City. In terms of spatial composition, the small Cloister is also analogous to Foguang Temple. In Foguang temple, people first enter a courtyard, then climb through a steep staircase to reach a high base, and finally enter the main hall and look back at the valley. In the Cloister, people would also first enter a small courtyard through the forest, then pass a space that is highly integrated with the terrains, and finally, walk out of “the mountain” and enter a transparent and delicate steel-structure Zen hall. Eventually, the view toward the valley suddenly opens, drawing the distant Great Wall inside.
The middle part of the building has a 1.6-meter-high stepping terrace, which not only simulates the geometric shape of the terraced farm cultivated by local farmers, but also tries to create a spatial meaning with the dimension of 1.6-meter, which is both close to a human body and is the typical height of half-story in a building. For such a “topographic” architecture, its typological meaning shifts between "landscape" (or "terrain") and "architecture".
The steel-structure Zen Hall at the foot of the mountains is a pictographic reconstruction of the Chinese character "舍". "舍" consists of three parts: “亼”, “屮”, and “囗". “亼” indicates a roof, “屮” refers to beams and columns, and “囗” emblems a base. Such is also the composition of traditional Chinese wooden architecture, such as the Great East Hall of Foguang Temple. In the Cloister, the curved roof is supported by two circles of slender steel columns. The square base adapts to the terrain, which results in a variety of heights of steel columns on the outer circle. Standing inside the “hall”, visitors would feel that two sides of the col become the actual enclosure for the hall as the space is only open toward the valley. In the near distance, the ancient Great Wall stands as a fossil of time, and everything is designed for this moment of tranquilness.
[ Golden Ridge Upper-cloister ]
Location Wu Dao Liang, San Dao Gou Cun, Luanping, Chengde
Floor Area 615 sqm
Design Period 2016.11.