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Nan Tien Education and Cultural Centre

Buddhist Education Centre Takes Cues from Religion's Teachings

The Nan Tien Education and Cultural Centre is a tertiary facility and multicultural art gallery in Wollongong, Australia. Situated opposite of the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, the new building sits on the former site of a landfill bought by the Nan Tien Institute from the council for one Australian dollar.

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Using the Buddhist symbol of the lotus flower as design inspiration, the edifice is comprised of four distinct “pods” that are linked by bridges, allowing for movement throughout the interiors. Keeping in line with the humanistic teachings of Fo Guang Shan, a new Buddhist movement based out of Taiwan, the architecture avoids hierarchy, utilizes a neutral palette, and is void of materialism.


Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Association




Wollongong, Australia

Completion Date



6,000 square meters

This first building on the site was conceived as a welcoming gateway to the institute.

Connecting to the environment, the building comprises four linked pods with an open public space in between.



To support the center’s ethos of wellbeing, the design incorporates fresh air, natural light and reduced energy use.

Curved walls and window openings have created a distinctive look for the building, with precast concrete used to create the signature form of the building.

The sculptural forms of the pods and the raw faςade texture were made by pouring concrete into custom-made steel and timber molds.

The pods are linked by pedestrian bridges, allowing for meaningul movement throughout the building.

The architecture avoids hierarchy and values the presence of pure space to provide an austere and peaceful environment.

The architecture is derived from the characteristics of the site, including contaminated land, views, connections and the master plan.