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White Temple

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  • 12-05-2020
Private Temple in northern Thailand
Wat Rong Khun – the White Temple
Facts:

In the 20th century Wat Rong Khun was in a state of decay. Although restoration had commenced, it was soon halted due to lack of funds. Enter Chalermchai Kositpiptat, renowned Thai artist, born in Chiang Rai who acquired the property and funded the rebuild of the temple complex himself. Opened to visitors in 1997, it was the victim of an earthquake in 2014. After a structural evaluation, Chalermchai proceeded on another massive restoration. The temple site when completed will have a total of nine buildings. Quoting Chalermchail: “Only death can stop my dream, but cannot stop my project.” It appears that in our lifetime, the work will not be complete as it is scheduled to be finished in 2070.

Epoch:

Modern, Thai

Location:

Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Ubosot

Approach to the Ubosot

Commentary:

It has been said that there are over 30,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand and only one that is privately owned, namely Wat Rong Khun;
Nine buildings will ultimately grace the site some of which include the “Ubosot” (the white temple or ordination hall), a meditation hall, art gallery, a hall of relics, and the existing golden building (rest rooms);
The brilliant exterior effect of the main building was achieved by using pieces of mirrored set in the stucco;
The Ubosot is entered via a pedestrian bridge over a small reflecting pond representing rebirth. On the approach, one is confronted with several hundred hands reaching towards the sky as a symbol of “unrestrained desire”, and offering in inkling of what is to come next;
Wheras the exterior pays homage to classic Thai architecture with its three-tiered roof and decorated with several “Naga” (protectors of Buddha) serpents, the interior is pure theatric and art gallery – blazing murals are everywhere mixed in with kitschy Hollywood memorabilia. The message ? “People are wicked”. (sorry folks, no interior images allowed).

Rest rooms building

Chalermchai’s art

Takeaways:

This is an unusual example where the Owner is both the Artist and Architect
and the symbiotic integration respecting one’s cultural history yet at the same time exercising one’s creative vision is uniquely portrayed;

  • – Chalermchai is so commited to this project that he has poured the proceeds from his artwork into funding his vision. In otherwords “he puts his money where his mouth is” – It’s also called “making dreams come true”.
  • – Buddhist symbology thrives everywhere in the conceptualization of this site;
  • – Future plans include the construction of living quarters for monks – maybe some day it will revert from as some say an irreverent expression of 21st century ideology to something harkening to the past.

The Predator

Other Readings:

In Thailand, a Buddhist Artist is Building the Bizarre Temple of His Dreams
– Mitch Sawyer
A Tour of Wat Rong Khun, the Oddest Temple in Thailand – Slate
Numerous travel articles on the internet

Source:

Allan Ross

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