Secular within Sacred
Taking the path through the monastery towards the Meditation Centre is a contemplative ritual; there is a sense of pilgrimage as one wanders along the open sheltered walkways adorned with traditional Chinese embellishments up a gentle hill, through the plethora of traditional Chinese temple forms and religious icons within the site. In contrast to its surrounding predecessors with their expressive finial structures and extensive adornments, the Meditation Centre is a cleanly carved single volume mass, wrapped tightly with a contiguous facade skin. The building is free from ornamentation, in line with its secular disposition. However, unlike some modernist religious buildings that are void of all traces of idioms in the pursuit of a pure, contemporary building, Founding Director of Forum Architects, Ar. Tan Kok Hiang MSIA, posits that it was crucial that the interpretation be connected to the historic site as well as share a visually coherent language to assimilate into the community of buildings within the monastery. This respectful approach sees the eaves of the building’s sweeping roof curved and upturned in traditional Chinese temple fashion. This vestigial element allows the building to strike a balance between the modern and the familiar, helping to establish kinship to the community. This delicate balance asserts the building as a product of our time, while contributing to the evolution of building typology in the monastery.