XSiTE Design Studio: Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives or often called “Suan Mokkh Bangkok or BIA”. It is dedicated to the heritage of the venerable monk, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, (May 27, 1906 – May 25, 1993). Whom is an influential ascetic-philosopher of the 20th century in Thailand and the founder of Suan Mokkh Chaiya in Surathani province southern of Thailand. BIA is a Dharma learning and edutainment center to help people attain Nirvana. This center also collects, maintains and sets up a database for original written works by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. BIA also hosts facilities suitable for meditation, lectures, discussion, exhibitions etc. in order to be a hub for mutual understanding. The site is at the far northern end of Suan Wachira Benchathat Park adjacent to a large pond.
The purpose of place and heritage of Suan Mokkh Chaiya, is formed the design concept. While Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha, is the key design inspiration.
Modern Zen Landscape is used for implement the concept. Most of material used are natural material such as pebbles, stones, grasses that combined with raw rustic surfaces of material such as iron, rusted iron, bare concrete and wooden. All design elements is composed neatly and differently in each area that depend on its order of approaching and functionality to convey the deep meaning of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu’s Buddhism teaching.
This is multipurpose and staff parking area. It is the first area that connects between in and out of the site. Since it is the most public area and locates at the farthest corner from the main building that contain a lot of knowledge to obtain Nirvana.
So we named it “ Ignorance court ” that likes most people that know nothing when their first visit BIA. Hence the rustic hardscape, likes bare concrete and earth coloured concrete floor together with rusted iron sheet, and wildwoods plant or weeds are used to convey human’s inexperienced of Dharma.
This zone is a northern greenbelt of the site next to the library in the main building. The big trees are grown randomly like in the jungle in order to create privacy and shading. All floor covers with grass lawn that decorated with smooth polished sphere rock sculptures. That implies more polished human minded with Dharma along the way to the main archives building.
This multipurpose court is used for Dharma presentation and special Buddhism ceremony. It is inspired from the original court at Suan Mokkh Chaiya in Suratthani province. Key feature is a curve wall. The Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva statues is at center of the wall and surrounding with Buddhism story low relief stone carvings. The Sal trees (Shorea Robusta Roxb) are background to remind the enlighten moment of Buddha in the Sal jungle. The space is treated as Zen garden style with 5 islands of 5 type of scent tree with pebbles floor in order to symbolize Dharma. Regarding to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu’s notification that Dharma always contains with 5 elements.
This court is a roof garden on the 2nd floor of main building, used for Dharma small discussion group and the back and forth walking for mindfulness practice. So a lot of Dharma are hidden in landscape elements as a tool for mindfulness meditation under shady zen garden. Pebbles are still used together with grass to link with Larn Hin Kong court. There are 8 Mokkh trees (Holarrhena pubescens) in this garden represented “the Noble Eightfold Path” ,the way to the end of suffering. And also there are 12 different natural rocks place on pebbles island at the center that represent “the Law of Dependent Origination “ (Paticca- samuppada).
It locates in Suan Wachira Benchathat Park another side the large pond that was once a private golf course for the exclusive use of State Railway employees. Now is turned the land over to the BIA for a meditation park. The design attempts to preserve all original trees in the site and then improve the soil condition and irrigation into proper condition for new function. The 3 clean circle concrete lines on earth floor are used to create new space and symbolize ”the Three Characteristics” teaching in Buddhism. That still has the linkage with Larn Hin Kong with low relief stone carvings. While looking across the treetop to the far edge of site, visitors would notice 5 edgeless concrete poles that remind them the 5 precepts, the basic Buddhist code of ethics.
Name of Project: Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives (Suan Mokkh Bangkok-BIA)
Landscape Architect: XSiTE Design Studio
Project Team: Director – Thottanet Luekijna
Client: Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives foundation
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Use: Dharma learning and edutainment center
Site Area: 5,900 sq. m
Design Year: 2009
Completion year: 2010