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9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

Founded on the Indian Subcontinent by the Buddha around 500 BC, Buddhism is a widely followed religion across Southeast Asia, especially the Mainland. Temples and the Sangha, communities of monks, nuns, novices and laity, play a critical role in preserving good practice and his teachings to the present day. Here are 9 sacred places around the Region to visit on your long journeys through life.

/// ASEAN ///

Photo: Sam Garza
Photo: Radu Micu
Photo: Anandajoti

ANGKOR WAT

Siem Reap, Cambodia

One of the largest and most resplendent religious monuments in the world, Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who ruled the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple around the turn of the century. The temple complex sits on 1.6 million square meters (about 400 acres) of land in Siem Reap, a province on the northern shore of Tonle Sap in central Cambodia. The enduring pride of Khmer architecture was constructed of sandstone adorned with a breathtaking richness of sculptures in bas-relief. It was inscribed on the List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992. The ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2012 made Angkor Wat and Borobudur (in Indonesia) sister sites as part of an effort at promoting cultural tourism in the Region.


 

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata

Photo: Jorge Franganillo

BOROBUDUR

Magelang, Indonesia

Among the world’s largest religious sites, Borobudur in central Java is on a par with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Built in the 9th Century, it was a center of Buddhism at the time the Srivijayan Empire became the first kingdom to dominate the islands of Sumatra and neighboring Java. Borobudur is representative of Javanese architecture that blends the concept of Nirvana, the final goal of Buddhism, with the native custom of venerating ancestors. Located on a highland 40 kilometers from Yogyakarta, the magnificent Borobudur temple overlooks rolling hills, lush forests and twin volcanoes. Its nine-tiered floor plan consists of six square platforms placed one above the other, three circular atriums at the top, and pagodas. They are decorated with beautiful reliefs and a total of 504 Buddha statues. Guinness World Records make in the world’s largest Buddhist temple, while UNESCO added it to the World Heritage Sites in 1991.


 

Photo: Charles Kimball
Photo: www.helpfulboytravels.com

THE ANANDA TEMPLE

Bagan, Myanmar

A sea of temples and pagodas in central Myanmar is a wonder to behold. The ancient city of Bagan was capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th Centuries. During that time, thousands of Buddhist temples, dome-shaped shrines and monasteries were constructed. Among them, the Ananda Temple was built by King Kyanzittha in 1105 A.D. It’s very well preserved and accessible to visitors. Inside the most revered temple of Bagan, huge Buddha statues stand facing east, west, north and south in the corridors illuminated by natural light. The building is built of white sandstone that’s characteristic of ancient Mon architecture.


 

 

Photo: Trairat Songpao
Photo: Trairat Songpao

THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA (WAT PHRA KAEW)

Bangkok, Thailand

Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha was consecrated in 1784 during the reign of King Rama I, founding father of the Rattankosin Kingdom and the first monarch of the reigning Chakri Dynasty. Inside, the Emerald Buddha reposes on an elevated altar surrounded by gilded décor. The bright green stone statute of the Buddha is regarded as the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The royal temple stands embraced by dome-shaped shrines, pagodas, and religious halls. The corridors are adorned with mural paintings depicting episodes from Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It’s now one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.


 

Photo: www.bjornfree.com
Photo: Thomas Schoch

THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA

Yangon, Myanmar

The historic 99-meter-tall Shwedagon Pagoda stands surrounded by a sea of 68 smaller stupas. It’s also known as the Golden Pagoda for the gilded dome-shaped structure that dominates the Yangon skyline. Legend has it that the large religious monument was built some 2,500 years ago, but archeologists put its beginning between the 6th and 11th Centuries based on evidence of Mon temple architecture. Shwedagon is regarded as the most sacred pagoda for the people of Myanmar. As gestures of respect, visitors are required to remove their shoes on entering the temple compound. From past to present, people have donated gold and gemstones that go towards restoring the pagoda to its original splendor. “Shwe” is a local word for gold, while “Dagon” is the old name of Yangon.


 

Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com
Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com

THE TEMPLE OF DAWN (WAT ARUN)

Bangkok, Thailand

One of the most ancient temples in Thailand, the Temple of Dawn is located across the river from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. The Buddhist temple that existed on the site was originally called Wat Makok. As the Ayudhya Period ended and Thon Buri became a new capital, the temple was renamed Wat Chaeng. In the early Rattanakosin Period, the name was changed to Wat Arun as a symbol of the first light of a new day. The Buddhist temple is renowned for its colorfully decorated pyramidal structures. The tapering conical towers, known as Prangs, are adorned with a mosaic of ceramic tiles and glass that shimmers in the sunlight. The Prangs of Wat Arun are best viewed from across the river. They were on the logo of the Bangkok Art Biennale that just ended.


Vernacular Houses around the ASEAN

Vernacular Houses around the ASEAN

If you are interested in design based on local needs, local materials, and local traditions, you will find vernacular building exhibitions well worth a visit.

/// Thailand ///

 

The expo area features 5 show pavilions designed by the design firms.

Five show pavilions are open now at Architect ’18, the ASEAN’s largest building technology exposition organized by the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA). It’s happening on May 1-6, 2018 at Impact, Muang Thong Thani.

Plastic crates filled with clay are readied for the show at Architect ’18.

Other attractions range from a photography display by Vernacular Built Environment and Cultural Heritage Studies Group, and exhibitions by various architectural firms, to retail businesses, and seminars featuring distinguished speakers from Thailand and abroad.

The expo’s must-see events include a show pavilion by Boon Design, which presents building techniques using materials readily available in a locality, such as plastic crates for fruit transportation filled with clay.

Inside one of the show pavilions dedicated to vernacular-style living
The dark exterior that is characteristic of the Boon Design show pavilion

Designer Boonlert Hemvijitraphan said: “Traditionally, earth has been a material of choice for home building while plastic crates come in handy as byproducts of the industry. The choice of materials is often dictated by availability in a particular area. Homes can be made of anything, whether it’s earth or wood, so long as they are adapted to suit local needs and requirements.” Like so, a vernacular house in Southeast Asia may appear dim on the inside because there are only a few openings. Lace fabrics on the windows tell stories of clever adaptations to suit local weather conditions.

Vernacular houses on the waterfront in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand
photograph reflects local beliefs and customs around the Region.

The building techniques differ from country to country across Southeast Asia as illustrated by the photo exhibition by the Vernacular Built Environment and Cultural Heritage Studies Group. Its members include Isarachai Buranaut, Kullphut Seneevong Na Ayudhaya, Somchai Chuechuaychu, and Surapong Jamniyom.

 

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Cambodia Architect & Decor 2017

Cambodia Architect & Decor 2017

Cambodia Architect & Decor 2017 made a prominent display of construction materials, furnishings, and architectural designs. Living ASEAN was in Phnom Penh to bring you this report. Check this out.

/// CAMBODIA ///

More than 150 local and international brands participated in Cambodia Architect & Decor from June 8 to 10. The event held at the Diamond Island Convention & Exhibition Center showcased construction materials, furnishings, and architectural designs fitting the needs of Cambodia’s construction market.

 

The trade show, now in its second year, offered the opportunity for manufacturers and designer professionals to capitalize on the growing importance of design in Cambodia’s booming construction market.

A platform for exchanging ideas and experiences, the event included seminars and a student design competition in association with the Cambodia Society of Architects (CSA). The contest was held under the theme “Provincial Gateway to Cambodia Heritage”.

CSA Design Competition, The winner 
CSA Design Competition
CSA Design Competition
CSA Design Competition
CSA Design Competition
CSA Design Competition

The trade expo was seen as a timely response to Cambodia’s GDP growth rate, which is expected to top 7.1% in 2018, and which attracted US$8.5 billion worth of investment last year.

Cambodia Architect & Décor is organized by ICVeX Co, Ltd. and the Cambodia Society of Architects (CSA), in partnership with TTF International Co, Ltd.

 

Link: www.cambodiaarchitectdecor.com

 

Architect Expo ’17 Has Begun

Architect Expo ’17 Has Begun

Architect Expo ’17 is happening now at Impact Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok. Living ASEAN discovered many practical new products and ideas that will surely benefit people who want to build things. Drop by before the show ends this Sunday May 7.

/// Thailand ///
  Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk

The ASEAN’s largest building technology show is on from 10 AM to 8 PM daily. Here are three reasons you can’t afford to miss this annual event.

Baan Baan Case Study

ASA Emerging Architecture Awards 2017

 

1. Varied exhibitions on dwellings

Embracing the concept of simplicity in life known as “Baan Baan: Reconsidering Dwelling,” the center of the exhibition hall was dedicated to 16 small exhibitions show casing many different ways of living.

Start with “In Remembrance of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej”. The show comes in two parts: The“Architect of the Land” exposition, and the“Pictures of Our Father,” which presents a collection of images sent in by designers to commemorate the great king.

In Remembrance of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

In Remembrance of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

In Remembrance of H.M. King Bhumibol AdulyadejThe “Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses” exhibition features models of vernacular residential architecture from different regions and ethnicities around Thailand. Some house designs were influenced by shared cultural heritage with ethnic groups in neighboring Myanmar and Vietnam.

Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses

Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses

Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses

Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses

Traditional and Vernacular Thai Houses

Traditional and Vernacular Thai HousesThe “Baan Baan Case Study” display features a variety of dwelling places in many shapes and sizes, each suited for a specific budget and designed by Thai architects. The name of the show may sound esoteric to many viewers, but essentially it’s about building within budgets.

Baan Baan Case Study

Baan Baan Case Study


 

2. Models showcasing works by leading architectural firms

It’s the show for people who want to build things. Once a year, leading architectural firms put on a public display of works by their designers. It’s nice to drop in and get inspired by many creative projects and designs, ranging from hostels, townhouse renovation ideas, holiday homes, and more. Don’t miss out on these great ideas.

Designed by Octane Architect and Design
Designed by Awaken Design Studio

Baan Baan Mockup: Designed by Vaslab

Baan Baan Mockup: Designed by IDIN Archotects

 


Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

There are more to Cambodia than Ankor Wat or a casino. Phnom Penh itself is a city with a legacy from its glorious days. Many may have lost in time. But some remain; including the architectural buildings designed by Vann Molyvann.        

///  Cambodia ///

Story: Jeremaih Pitakwong /// Photos: Samutcha Viraporn, Damrong Leewairoj

The Royal University of Phnom Penh's library building. Exterior pillars support the building weight (no pillars inside). The building is surrounded by a pond containing raindrops from a gutter.
The Royal University of Phnom Penh’s library building is surrounded by a pond. The building weight relies mainly on the exterior pillar.

 

The Institute of Foreign Languages's meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.
The Institute of Foreign Languages’s meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.

Phnom Penh is equipped with a great city-planning. Temples and palaces in the city have a hint of Southeast Asian style component incorporated with French colonial architecture. Although parts of these heritages are deteriorated, their good old days can still shone through.

Among high-rise buildings and growing villages indicating Cambodia’s improving economy, old and valuable buildings are neglected as the government and foreign investors prefer the “Modern” which suggests “Prosperity” rather than renovating its old ones.

However, old doesn’t mean out. Vann Molyvann, has designed “Modern” principal buildings since the 1960s.

Vann Molyvann was born in 1926. He was granted the scholarship from Cambodian government to study architecture at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in France, where many modern architects are nurtured.  After the graduation, he served as a State Architect in 1956 and also played an important role for a period.

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The lifted walkway in the back gives a shade to the pathway below.
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings

His significant works was designed and built within 1974; The National Theater (later torn down), the National Sports Complex (a.k.a. Olympic Stadium), the Institute of Foreign Languages inside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Chaktomuk Conference Hall (renovated). All of his works could be considered as modern and would definitely be treated as national treasures if they were in Europe.

Since the government policies regarding these building are unknown, their futures are uncertain. For those who have an urge for a modern building, a quick sightseeing trip to the remaining site is highly recommended. Also, don’t forget to check out www.ka-tours.org where you can book a private architecture tour in Cambodia conducted by Cambodian architecture students.

The exterior of the National Sports Complex.
The exterior of the National Sports Complex.

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A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.
A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.

 

Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.
Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.

 

An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.
An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.

 

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Details of the indoor stadium roof.
Details of the indoor stadium roof.

At the age of 89, Van Molyvann has returned from his fugitive in France and now living in Siam Reap. While many might have already forgotten about his iconic buildings, it is safe to say his pages in the history will never be erased.

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