THE FIELD, TEAM BLDG. A residence for Buddha

Founded in 2012, TEAM_BLDG works with architecture, interior, landscape, and product projects. The two founders consider that the word “BLDG” (Building) is a verb than the only meaning of architecture, which should be the processing of constructing, and therefore the finished design should be just a start of architects’ work. Perhaps this is the reason why, relative to any concept or style, they are focusing more on the “atmosphere” of building and space, both interior and exterior, for people. This approach is visible in one of their latest projects, The Field, commissioned by the Buddha artist Jiang Sheng.

Located in Huli District, Xiamen City, at the former site of an aluminum factory, the building was originally a public bath. In 2019, it was partially renovated after the factory was transformed into a creative office park with multiple businesses. The shape of the former public bath is still visible: it consists of three blocks, arranged south to north, shaping a rhythmic stepped form. Defined as Building 1, 2, and 3 depending on the number of floors, each block was characterized in a different way. The new project involves the renovation of this building into a new studio and exhibition space, The Field, which will be used to exhibit the JIANGJIABAN Buddha statues.

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At the beginning of Buddhism, there were no physical subjects for people to rely on. However, with the rise of Mahayana one and advancement in craftsmanship, Buddhism began to enter the “Age of the Image”. Therefore, how to interact with the Buddha statues and architecture to convey the intangible perception has become a great challenge for the design. After the initial communication with the client, we gradually reached an agreement on the design concept: a hidden and even invisible architecture. The building is merely an intermedium to carry the Buddha statues and contain the essence of Buddhism, and is a “residence” for Buddha in the mundane world.

Based on the concept of “the residence of Buddha”, the studio started the renovation. First of all, they blocked up the windows on the façade of Building 1 and 2, and removed the internal walls of Building 1, thus creating a relatively integrated “darkroom”, emphasizing an introverted, enclosed atmosphere. In the interior of the exhibition hall, they used white space and integrated background to conceal the details of architectural components, so that the shape of the Buddha Statues becomes more prominent. Afterward, the studio rearranged and simplified the exterior of the building. It is painted with the same sandalwood yellow color as the interior, thus giving continuity to the three buildings.

Light is one of the fundamental components of “the Field”. Inspired by local traditional buildings, TEAM_BLDG added 31 skylights on top of the blocks, either round or square, in arrays or isolated. These will let the light fills in and creates two kinds of spaces: a “bright” main hall and a “closed” dark room. Inside the first, the Buddha statues are mainly carved from dense materials such as wood and stone, whose reflections constantly change in line with the angle of sunlight. On the contrary, in the dark room, the Buddha statues are made of transparent materials such as glaze and jade.

When the studio surveyed the site, they were amazed by the huge magnolia tree on the east side of the building. Therefore the team protected and made it a landmark for the entire project. Guided by the magnolia tree, visitors can bypass the wall and enter the exhibition hall through the revolving door under the canopy.

The team was able to create an attractive spiritual environment, and not pure and isolated as many symbolic places of Buddhism. The Field is characterized by a divine, religious atmosphere, capable of instilling harmony and respect thanks to the materials and the play of lights that the new space creates with the surrounding environment. To know more details of the project you can visit TEAM_BLDG‘s website and if you want to stay updated follow them on Instagram!

Function: Exhibition, Office & Retail
Design Period: 2019.11 – 2020.02
Construction Period: 2020.02 – 2020.06
Location: Xiamen, Fujian, China
Building Area: 842 SQM
Architects: Xiao Lei, Yang Yuqiong, Lin Wenjun, Wang Han
Type: Architecture and Interior
Status: Completed
Photographs: Jonathan Leijonhufvud
Client: JIANGJIABAN

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