Watch full video

Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre

Buddhist Teachings Inform Architectural Language of New Higher Education Institute.

The Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre is a new tertiary educational facility and multicultural art gallery based in Wollongong, Australia. 

The institute is situated opposite the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, on the site of a former garbage tip bought by the Nan Tien Institute from the council for one Australian dollar.

Reflecting this, Woods Bagot has used the Buddhist symbol of the lotus flower, a pristine, beautiful bloom that arises from the mud, as the starting point for the design of the building. 

In keeping with the Humanistic Buddhist teachings of Fo Guang Shan, the architecture avoids hierarchy, is of the now, values the void and provides a neutral environment devoid of excess and materialism.

The structure of the building was formed by grouping spaces into four distinct ‘pods’, creating a public space in between. The pods are linked by active bridges, allowing for the movement through the building to be a journey comprised of moments, destinations and thresholds.



Building as campus

The Concept for the building is that it is to be a gateway to the institute comprised of linked ‘pods’ that perform as a mini campus that embodys a collegiate atmosphere welcoming to all and has a strong connection to its environment.

  • Celebrates the journey towards enlightenment
  • Providing an environment that is the focus on health and well-being
  • Enables the sharing of knowledge and wisdom through everyday interaction
  • Provides significant connectivity to the culture of temple while maintaining a presence and an attraction of its own
  • Celebrates life with the connection to nature and an appreciation for the environment
  • The lotus flower was a used as a metaphor for the design of the building in the sense of it being cultivated on a former tip site.

Engagement with health and well-being and nowness

Encourage ongoing engagement with health and well-being:

––Remediation of the site (‘Pureland’), Minimise Impact
––Support the education of Humanistic Buddhism
––Provide a place to gather and be around others for support, enjoyment, communication, sharing of knowledge.
––Have civic presence to allow for congregations of communities through supporting display and participation with cultural activities.
––ESD initiatives that support wellbeing (fresh air natural light, access to clean water and minimization, reduce energy use.

Be of the now.

––Promote advancements in Humanistic Buddhism rather than replicating the past.
––Celebrate the moments of the everyday and daily living.
––Embrace advances in technology and innovation.



Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Association


Wollongong, Australia


6000 m2



Completion Date



Georgia Singleton, Kenn Fisher, John Prentice, Alan Duffy

wechat qr code