located within a forest by the riverside in hebei, china, this buddhist shrine is developed by archstudio as a place for meditation, contemplation and satisfying needs of daily life. the design began by noticing a mound along the river, behind which is a great stretch of open fields and sporadic greenhouses. from that point on, the architects wished to create a connection between building and nature by hiding the shrine right under the mound. in that sense, the place gains a ‘power of perception – where trees, water, Buddha and human coexist’. 

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
panorama view of archstudio waterside buddhist shrine



archstudio has conceived the plan of the shrine like branches extending under the existing forest. even more, all trees on site have been maintained and respected by constructing carefully around their trunks. the final result is a building with five independent yet continuous spaces created by two axis – one going north-south and the other along the river. 

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
courtyard interior view with preserved site trees



the ‘branches’ represent five spaces of different functions – entrance, buddhist meditation room, tea room, living room and bathroom – that ultimately create a strolling-style experience. the entrance faces two trees, under which  people need to walk into the building through a narrow path. on the other hand, the shrine is against the wall and facing the water, where light and shadow get through the skylight and flow into the interior space along the curved wall, exaggerating the light of Buddha. meanwhile, the tea room opens completely to the pool which is filled with lotus and trees on both sides, creating a fun tea tasting and sight-viewing. finally, the lounge is separated from other spaces by a bamboo courtyard.

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
tea room delicately opens up to the exterior 



the relationship with nature further extends to the use of materials, particularly integral concreting in walls and roofing. the concrete framework is pieced together with pine strips of 3 cm width; in this way, natural wood grain and vertical textures are impressed on the interior surface to create a soft and warm feeling against the cold materials. finally, a custom-made built-in-furniture is built with wood strips, whose grey wood grain is a little different from the concrete walls. 

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
bank axis

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
solid wood is used for all doors and windows

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
smooth terrazzo is used for the interior floor

cement grouting with white pebbles is adopted in outdoor flooring

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
wall design and circulation create a sense of spatial flow 

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
mediation room with the Buddha statue

archstudio waterside buddhist shrine china designboom
detail view: contrast between vegetation and material



project info:


waterside: buddist shrine
location: tangshan, hebei, china
project type: religious building
design company:
architecture team:
han wenqiang, jiang zhao, li xiaoming
structural design: zhang fuhua
water-electricity: zheng baowei
photographer: wang ning, jin weiqi


land area: about 500 sqm
building area: 169 sqm
design time: 2015.04—2015.08
construction time: 2015.10—2017.01



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

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