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Atelier Deshaus completes Buddhist temple alongside Great Wall of China

Atelier Deshaus completes Buddhist temple alongside Great Wall of China

Chinese architecture studio Atelier Deshaus has completed the Upper-Cloister Buddhist temple and meditation complex, in the Jinshan Mountains near Beijing.

Situated in a valley next to the ruins of the Great Wall of China, the temple complex consists of series of spaces arranged on stepped platforms against the 1.6-metre drop sloping mountain terrain.

View from above Upper Cloister
The temple complex sits on stepped platforms located in a mountain valley

Shanghai-based Atelier Deshaus aimed to blend architecture with terrain in response to the site's history of coal mining and terrace farming."The new construction not only communicates with the ancient Great Wall in time and space, but also fits into the topography and wilderness of the valley," explained Atelier Deshaus.

Meditation hall of Upper Cloister
The form of the meditation hall was informed by Chinese character for shelter. Photo by Tian Fangfang

Visitors enter the temple through the open stone courtyard at the top of the complex. Steel plates hanging inward and steel columns attached to the concrete walls enclose the courtyard.

A Buddhist hall sits on one side of the courtyard while on the other side, an opening on the wall was created to frame the ancient Great Wall and a natural stone statue.

Inside the meditation hall of Upper Cloister
Steel columns support the curved roof of the meditation hall

The stepped upper platforms also house a meditation room, a reading room and a writing room. Several gardens of various scales at the upper platforms were created by Shunmyō Masuno, a landscape architect and a monk.

Five natural rocks of different shapes at the stone courtyard were selected to represent the five elements that constituents of person in Buddhist culture. The ground of the stone courtyard is made of light-colored chiseled concrete, which allows brightness reflected under moonlight in the evening.

Located at the base of the complex, is the meditation hall topped with a carbon-fibre roof. Its form represents a pictographic reconstruction of the Chinese character "舍", which means shelter and is composed of three parts the roof, the columns and the base.

Two rings of slender steel columns inside and outside of the structure support the curved roof. The steel columns of the outer ring change height to accommodate the sloping terrain of the mountain.

Stone courtyard of Upper Cloister
A stone courtyard was located at the top of the complex. Photo by Su Shengliang

"A light meditation hall touches the ground on tiptoe, as its slim and light structure sets the distance in time between the new construction and the ancient Great Wall," said the studio.

The pool in front of the meditation hall reflects the mountains and the sky, adding tranquility to the overall site.

Mountain view from Upper Cloister
Large opening frames the mountain view. Photo by Su Shengliang

Atelier Deshaus was founded in 2001 and is led by architects Liu Yichun and Chen Yifeng. The studio's recent projects include Shanghai Long Museum West Bund and the Qintai Art Museum in Wuhan, which was longlisted in Dezeen Awards 2022.

The photography is by Jonathan Leijonhufvud unless otherwise stated.

Project credits:

Design team: Liu Yichun, Shen Wen, Chan Hio Ngai, Wang Longhai, Gong Yu, Zhang Xiaoqi, Wang Yi, Sun Huizhong, Ji Hongliang, Zhang Zhun (structure), Zhang Chongchong (structure)
Structure Consultant:  AND Office
Structure and M&E: Beijing Yanhuang International Architecture&Engineering Co., Ltd
Landscape consultant: Shunmyo Masuno + Japan Landscape Consultants (courtyards and gardens), Turenscape (environment)
Lighting consultant: Zhongchenyuanzhan Lighting Design Co., Ltd,DLX Lighting Design
Construction: Chengde County Hongsheng Construction & Installation Engineering Co., Ltd, Jimusi Sanjiang Architectural Engineering Co., Ltd
Interior Construction:  Beijing Wandan Construction & Installation Engineering Co., Ltd.
Garden Construction: Changzhou Innovation Garden Engineering Co., Ltd.
Intelligent construction and technical development (for the Zen Hall): RoboticPlus.AI
Steel Structure Consultant: Shanghai Dexu Construction Development Co., Ltd
Faux finish:  Shanghai Yujia Construction Technology Co., Ltd.
Carbon Fiber Consultant: Shandong Huaye Wind Power Equipment Co., Ltd
Glass Consultant: Shanghai Rilang Doors and Windows Co., Ltd / Shanghai Lanshi Glass Co., Ltd
Stone Consultant: Yiboyuan Sculpture Co. Ltd

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More images

Meditation hall of Upper Cloister
Top platform of Upper Cloister
Stone courtyard of Upper Cloister
Mountain view from Upper Cloister
Upper Cloister in the mountain valley
Reading room and writing room of Upper Cloister
Meditation hall of Upper Cloister
Writing room garden of Upper Cloister