The origin of the Bangkok Grand Buddhist Temple comes from the substantial influence and inspiration of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism on Thailand. The project was initiated by believers and monks in 2018, hoping to complete with the public donation of land, funds, labor, construction materials. And HAS (Hung And Songkittipakdee) as architects contribute the design and planning to the project.
The project is located on the outskirts of Thailand's capital, about 30 kilometers away from the famous Wat Phra Kaew. Unlike the hustle and bustle of conventional Buddhist temples in the city, Bangkok Grand Buddhist Temple's surrounding region is empty and quiet, with weeds thriving. Most of the neighboring villagers are more than fifty years old, and the local scene presents a sense of uncontroversial and carefree calmness.
In 2018, when we first visited the site, we were lost in the weeds and trees due to the site's non-directionality and non-differentiation. However, this "roaming" process was much like the comfort and calm created in a Buddhist temple's space. Therefore, the design does not emphasize the magnificent and prevailing architecture; on the contrary, focuses on how to bring forth the unique "emptiness" of the site to the architecture itself; and combine the ecological landscape that changes amidst seasons so that visitors can naturally perceive the space with respect and awe.
The Bangkok Grand Buddhist Temple constitutes three spaces, including the Great Buddha's main hall, a meditation space, and a monk's dormitory. An open hole connects the three places through the catenary roof. At the entrance of the Buddhist temple, a large bamboo forest is presented to the visitors. The high and thin bamboo curving effect creates an exceptional atmosphere of arrival. Followed by the entrance corridor, the fuzzy boundaries lead to an itinerary towards inner space, together with the Jing Bodhi tree and local tree species creating a rich landscape with varying colors. In the main hall area, a curved bead screen wall connects the two stories of the temple. When the morning breeze goes through the temple from the hole, the believers can hear the reading of scriptures clashing with the Buddha beads. In the meditation and dormitory spaces, its rough and uneven surface of concrete and the delicate and elegant wood presents peace of the soul through meditation.
Fundraising for this Buddhist temple began in 2018. After nearly three years of hard work by believers, monks, architects, structural technicians, landscape architects, etc., its progress in funding has gradually advanced. The unexpected and sudden COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 led to significant impacts on building material donations and fundraising. Even so, all participating donors and the general public believe that Bangkok Grand Buddhist Temple is not only a place of prayer but also the public's embodiment for the future. However, it currently solely relies on the efforts of some believers. But because of architecture, it is an inspiration for human connection.