Faith & Stewardship: Integrating Sustainability with Religious Architecture
MetadataShow full item record
The Faith & Stewardship project explored the sustainable possibilities of a Thai Buddhist Temple located on the north shore of Lake Superior. The Architecture was designed through the use of a client narrative. The client, Whitaya Sathon, is a wealthy Thai business man, living in Chicago, who feels that his own life’s journey has become encumbered by the trivialities of a modern capitalistic society. Seeking refuge in the religion of his people, he found inspiration from particular sect of Buddhism, the Thai Forest Tradition. The Thai Forest Tradition is a tradition of Buddhist monasticism within Thai Theravada Buddhism. Practitioners inhabit remote wilderness and forest dwellings as spiritual practice training grounds. The Thai Forest Tradition emphasizes direct experience through meditation practice and strict adherence to monastic rules. Forest monks are considered to be meditation specialists. This powerful devotion to seclusion inspired Whitaya to fund the creation of a Forest Monastery in forests of the Minnesota North Shore near the Temperance River. Whitaya is particularly drawn to the idea of provisional monkhood, a staple in Thai society. One temporarily leaves conventional life and disrobes all earthly troubles, focusing only on their own spirituality. This notion strongly influenced the design of the monastery. The earth carved away (disrobed) exposing the rock and earth beneath, the organic forms of the temple are reminiscent of the bare bones; the corten walls suggestive of the withering flesh. To become a monk is to open oneself and be lain bare.