Ben Refuerzo, China Studio


Ben Refuerzo, Professor
Course: 401. Advanced Topics Studio

This long standing collaborative studio led by UCLA Professor Ben Refuerzo and Tianjin University Professor Feng to design a cultural arts district including a museum, artists studios, housing, and a community center on Yunbao Island outside of Tianjin recently held their final review.  In their design work the students were asked to  confront ideas of identity, tradition, and community in a modern China that is continually reinventing itself. Tianjin University hosted the UCLA group for a four-day workshop and mid-review in November, while the Tianjin University students traveled to Los Angeles for the final review in December. 

Museum of Buddhism and Zen Meditation
WuDang Lamasery 
Tibetan Buddhism has a distinctive character both in religious conception and architectural style. It had spread over Mongolia grasslands since the Yuan Dynasty and especially after the Ming and Qing Dynasties, along with the influence of the Gelugpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism which is getting much stronger and is becoming widespread in the Mongolia grasslands. In a short period of time, the lamasery building type is taking on increasing significance.  
WuDang Lamasery, was founded at the beginning of Qing Dynasty (the 17th century) and then  developed into the largest Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in Inner Mongolia, The WuDang Ditch is along the Jihuluntu Mountain of YiShan Mountain Ranges, 54 kilometers northeast of the city of Baotou. It is called BaDaGeEr in Tibetan which means “white lotus”. 

The main temples, palaces, mansions and one mausoleum lie on the slope of the middle mountain and the subordinate ones along with dormitories are scattering along the two ditches beside the mountain. All buildings are of pure Tibetan Buddhist style. In 1996 the State Council listed it into the National Important Cultural Relics Protection Units. Besides the great value of art and distinctive Tibetan Buddhist architectural style on the location, layout and style, many precious historical and artistic relics are housed in WuDang Lamasery, such as frescos, Tangka (Tibetan scroll painting on cloth), sculptures, instruments used in Buddhist masses, three-dimensional mandala, and the daily necessities for all Living Buddha---incense burner, enamel container, jade, silk, porcelain etc.. 
Our project will be to design a new Museum of Tibetan Buddhism at the WuDang Lamasery.  It will be a place to collect, exhibit, and study all the relics and data about Tibetan Buddhism. 
The site, about 250000 sq. Ft. in area, is now a place of incongruous commercial buildings which will be removed.  The site is located on the foot of the hill to the west of the entrance square of the lamasery, where two streams along the east and west sides of the lamasery converge together. To the east of the site across the stream there are elms planted by the Great 2nd Living Buddha which is a Holy Relic. To the northwest, up of the hill, is the terrace for The Shoton Festival (Festival of Exhibiting huge scroll painting of Buddha). The overall area of the museum will be around 100000 sq. ft., within the  250000 sq. ft. site.