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Philosophy and theory of architecture - Essay Example

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Philosophy and the theory of architecture The philosophical underpinnings of Buddhist architecture and the role of the Baims Si in the development of Buddhist architectural thought in China Introduction This paper examines some of the important ideas, motives and devices behind Buddhist architecture…
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Download file to see previous pages In so doing, it discusses the roots of this phenomenon, and surveys the different phases it has been and is going through and its physical spread and influence as well. That is, it takes a tour through both changes over time as well as spatially. The focus is mainly on the architecture of Buddhist temples, particularly those found in China. However, as the reader will come to know, if not known already, in Buddhism there is a variety of buildings that are considered as religious or spiritual spaces besides temples. A case study is made of the Baima Si, which is the White Horse Temple in the Henan province of China. This temple (Si) was chosen for its historical significance, as will be explained later, as well as the fact that it represents a unique amalgamation of architectural styles. It also functioned as a model for other such buildings and thereby played a pivotal role in moulding a special wave of thinking on architecture, which makes it deserve serious attention. For contrastive purposes, important comparisons are also drawn with architectural features belonging to Buddhist temples elsewhere in the world, especially in other Far Eastern countries that are heartlands of Buddhism. In addition, some comparisons are also highlighted between Buddhist architecture and what is found in other religious architectural expressions, especially of Christian, Hindu and Islamic origin. After the distinguishing and other special features are identified for Chinese Buddhist temples, an attempt is then made to explain these and the philosophy behind them. Buddhist architecture In Buddhism, although the temple is the main place for spiritual practices, there are also other spiritual spaces. These are the pagodas, which are towers like broader based minarets, stupas, which are dome shaped monuments, and grottos, which are caves used for specific spiritual practices within a more isolated environment. They are all holy and made to be serene and tranquil. The temples function more as monasteries for collective practices. As far as Chinese temples are concerned, Buddhist philosophy has been described as the greatest impetus behind religious art and architecture in China (Phuoc, 2010). Initially, Buddhism was practised in ordinary settings in China, such as people’s houses, but as demand grew, then special buildings were constructed. These buildings proved to be far more interesting than the Confucian and Taoist places and rich in architectural detail reflecting an equally richer philosophy. Hindu and Islamic philosophies of architecture share some commonality with Buddhist architecture. The Hindu influence is mostly evident in the early temples. Thus, there is a direct connection with Hindu architecture as they gave roots to Buddhist architecture. Connections with other religions are more indirect. A prominent style of Christian architecture was Gothic architecture during the medieval period. This was related with scholastic philosophy (Radding & Clark, 1994) in which there was an attempt to develop a comprehensive and integrated solution for various tasks including the construction of churches. An interesting parallel is drawn between the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas who was one of these aforementioned philosophers and Buddhist architecture in that he saw churches as symbolising heaven on earth. This is similar in some ways to the Buddhist concept of heaven but with some fundamental differences. Whereas only one heaven is envisaged in Christianity ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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