Japanese Architect and Pritzker Prize-winning Tadao Ando has covered a big statue of the Buddha with a landscaped hill covered in lavender plants at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo. The architectureintervention encloses the 13.5 meter-tall sculpture leaving only the top of its head visible from outside the hill.
Before the temple was completed, the Buddha sculpture stood alone in a field for 15 years. Afterward its conclusion, the client realized the stone structure was out of scale, creating a tense sensation on the visitors. For that reason, they contracted Ando to create a more serene and inspirational design.
The intervention envelops the statue, leaving only the top of its head visible from outside the hill, planted with lavenders that allow the landscape to change from green in spring to purple in summer to white with snow in winter.
“The aim of this project was to build a prayer hall that would enhance the attractiveness of a stone Buddha sculpted 15 years ago,” explained Ando in an essay for DOMUS magazine.
“Our idea was to cover the Buddha below the head with a hill of lavender plants. We called the idea the ‘head-out Buddha’. Embedded under the hill are a 40-metre approach tunnel and a rotunda embracing the statue.”
“The design intention was to create a vivid spatial sequence, beginning with the long approach through the tunnel in order to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is invisible from the outside. When the hall is reached, visitors look up at the Buddha, whose head is encircled by a halo of a sky at the end of the tunnel.”