Category Archives: Architecture

Two Buddhist Temples in Hong Kong Designated as National Monuments

Tung Lin Kok Yuen in Hong Kong’s Happy Valley. Photo by Bill Cox

from Buddhistdoor
By BD Dipananda
2017-10-20 |

The Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) of Hong Kong has designated two Buddhist temples—Tung Lin Kok Yuen (TLKY) Temple on Hong Kong Island and Yeung Hau Temple on Lantau Island—as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, along with a Christian landmark—Kowloon Union Church.

“The Antiquities and Monuments Office considers that with their significant heritage value . . . the three historic buildings have reached the ‘high threshold’ to be declared as monuments,” said a representative of the AAB after the meeting in June. “Consent . . . has been obtained from the respective owners.” (South China Morning Post)

Installed in 1976, the AAB is a constitutional body of the Hong Kong government that evaluates old buildings for designation as monuments based on their historical or architectural merit. According to AAB chairman Andrew Lam: “Heritage is the fruit of a place’s culture and history. It not only reflects the historical facts but also carries our emotions. And the work of the Antiquities Advisory Board relies on professional judgment as well as public knowledge and awareness of the importance of heritage.” (Antiquities Advisory Board)

Yeung Hau Temple in Tai O. From

Located in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island, TLKY was founded in 1935 by Lady Clara Ho Tung (1875–1938) and her husband, the prominent businessman and philanthropist Sir Robert Ho Tung (1892–1956). TLKY contains an ancestral hall, Dharma hall, dining hall, lecture theater, library, sutra hall, and dormitories for monastics. The temple also houses a valuable collection of calligraphy and Chinese couplets. The temple building shows the influence of Western engineering of the time combined with elements of traditional Chinese architecture, with its flying attics, brackets, and glazed tile roofs. TLKY is considered one of the more prominent Buddhist temples in Hong Kong and serves as a center for the Buddhist community and a place of education for monastics. Continue reading

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

East meets west in condo near Forest Park filled with Asian art and collectibles

By Amy Burger Special to the Post-Dispatch Sep 10, 2016

The centerpiece of the spacious dining room is a custom-made Ming-style rosewood dining table and chairs. Display cabinets hold the couple’s collections of Buddha figurines and Cambodian silver. Photo by Huy Mach,

Ada Kaiman welcomes guests into her home with a warm smile and a spread of delicious homemade dumplings — a traditional dish from her native China. She’s adjusting well to a new life in St. Louis with her husband, David, who grew up here — especially considering that it’s the first time she has lived in the United States. The couple moved here in January after three decades of living in Asia — most recently Hong Kong.

Having always lived in an urban environment, they fell in love with the architecture and views afforded by their 1929 high-rise apartment building overlooking Forest Park, as well as the vibrant street life of nearby neighborhoods like the Loop and the Central West End. Ada has enjoyed experiencing all of the culture that St. Louis has to offer.

One glance around the couple’s home, however, makes it clear that they’ve brought much of their Asian experience here with them. David’s mother instilled in him a love of antiques. During his years traveling throughout Asia for his career in banking and financial management, David visited numerous antiques dealers, picking up art, artifacts and furnishings to amass a large collection that includes pieces from China, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Afghanistan. Continue reading

Take In Beverly Hills Vistas from James Coburn‘s Scenic Home

The Academy Award-winning star of Affliction and his wife, Paula, filled their Beverly Hills house with furnishings reflecting their love of Eastern cultures

Architectural Digest



The piano lounge is often used for dancing. Scalamandré cut velvet and Christopher Hyland damask cover the armchairs next to the fireplace.

Posted September 9, 2016

This article originally appeared in the April 2000 issue of Architectural Digest

He arrived in California in the backseat of a Model A Ford piled high with his family’s belongings. It was 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression, and the Coburns had just driven all the way from dusty Nebraska looking for luck.

Even as a kid, James Coburn was an actor who projected an engaging air of menace: His first role was as King Herod in the school Christmas pageant. Over the years he studied with Stella Adler and Jeff Corey, did advertising gigs and played dozens of supporting roles, working with everyone from Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen to Sam Peckinpah and Bruce Lee. The Magnificent Seven (1960) made him a famous cowboy; he was an American-style James Bond in Our Man Flint (1965). Last year, at seventy, Coburn finally found his luck, winning an Oscar for his savage, haunting portrayal of an abusive father in Affliction. A Jaguar and a Mercedes have replaced the family Model A in his gated driveway, and from the gardens of his Beverly Hills hacienda he looks down on the lights of Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific beyond. He’s a man at the top of the world, and now he has a house to match.

“This is a house for a movie star,” his wife, Paula, says of the baronial five stories, built into a steep hill and arranged around a wrought iron-balustraded stairwell. “It’s magic here.” At the heart of the house is the Coburns’ paneled library; the Oscar sits on a reproduction lotus table in front of brocade draperies that frame the terraced gardens. “It’s a rush,” James Coburn says of the feeling he had when his name was announced. “You don’t believe it, and then you’re on the stage.” One of the best things about winning, he says, was taking Paula to the Academy Awards ceremony. She had always wanted to go.

Coburn constructed Affliction’s Pop Whitehouse from bits and pieces of his own experience, as well as from the Paul Schrader script and the novel by Russell Banks. He also drew on his memories of working with Sam Peckinpah on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He cut his white hair and wore padding for the part. Schrader asked him to speak through his nose, a shift that changed Coburn’s sexy growl to a threatening adenoidal whine. “When you’re acting,” Coburn explains, leaning back in one of the oversize leather chairs in the library, “everything you’ve done becomes worthwhile.”

“This is a man’s smoking room, the kind of room where you would retreat for an intimate chat with friends, or end up having an after-dinner liqueur,” says designer Craig Wright, who consulted with the Coburns on decorating. The leather chairs swivel to face a movie screen hidden in the paneling and are opposite a long chenille-covered sofa with throw pillows. “I like to sit up straight; Jim likes to slouch,” says Paula Coburn. “We wanted everyone to be comfortable.”

An antique Chinese cane bed used as a table holds candelabra made from Japanese altar sticks, an inlaid tortoiseshell Portuguese box and two bronze disciples of Buddha—part of the actor’s collection of Buddhist art. A calligraphic blessing from a Tibetan monk hangs on the wall. “I’ve always been interested in the esoteric side of religion,” says James Coburn, who has been acquiring Oriental art for thirty years. “All that stuff works for me. There are levels of understanding. It doesn’t all come in one flash of enlightenment.” Continue reading

Building of a faith

19DFR_BOOK3_2443294gJune 18, 2015 18:43 IST

The Golden Lands by Vikram Lall

In his recent book on architecture of Buddhist world, Vikram Lall weaves a historical narrative of its architectural traditions.

Buddhist architectural heritage hasn’t really engaged us except for our touristic outings and other recreational activities. While history of the faith is analysed, understood and followed the world over, its architecture somehow bypassed our attention largely. But architect Vikram Lall is fixated on this aspect of Buddhism and has been researching it for years now. The principal architect and partner of Lall & Associates, Lall launched “The Golden Lands”, a book describing the history, styles, and interpretation of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and ancient monuments across Southeast Asia. It was released last year in London, Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. In India, it was launched by Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

At India International Exhibition, Lodi Estate, Lall is currently holding an exhibition of some of the photographs from the book. A book discussion also took place alongside with the likes of Lokesh Chandra, Kapila Vatsyayan, S.C.Mallik, Shyam Sharan and Nalini Thakur. Lall, who has designed buildings like Akshardham Temple and Buddha Smriti Park in Patna, takes a few questions about his pet project on email. Edited excerpts from the interview:

Do you think Buddhist architectural heritage got overshadowed by the faith or never understood properly?

Indeed, while there are several works on Buddhism’s philosophy and history as well as on its art and archaeology, there are very few exclusively on its architectural traditions. The architectural understanding of its important monuments is low but most importantly there is negligible work done so far on constructing a historical narrative of its architectural traditions. As Buddhism spread out of India to diverse regions from Afghanistan to Japan, deep cultural connections were formed between these places – and its architectural traditions can be truly understood if we look at all of them together, holistically. And this is what I have been endeavouring to do over the years.

In India so much more attention has been given to tombs and palaces of the Moghuls and Rajput kings and temples of Central and South India in comparison to the thousand years of architectural history that existed abundantly, though now mostly in ruins.

As a consequence Buddhist architectural heritage, has lost its sense of meaning and context and is being packaged as tourist attractions or picnic spots, much as the head of Buddha serves as an icon of spas and massage parlours. Architectural remains of Buddhist monuments serve as isolated settings for tourism – or cinematic settings for song and dance sequences in Hindi films.

This is not a diatribe against the neglect and misuse of Buddhism heritage but about the absence of sufficient architectural knowledge of the built environment that was shaped by Buddhism. And this is the project that I have started, though quixotic, to make a comprehensive narrative of architecture of Buddhism.

How does it hold its own among other architectural styles that preceded or succeeded it?

The architectural traditions of Buddhism are rooted in the architecture of its own times and that which preceded it. In stylistic terms there is more in common between what has been labelled as Hindu or Buddhist or Jain architecture as they all emerge from the same pool of speculative thought, cosmology and patterns of patronage — which are universal. However, their buildings were influenced by local architectural traditions of places where they were conceived. And Buddhism has spread to places that often had varied building traditions such as Japan and Myanmar. Continue reading

All things art at 2015 Jaipur Literature festival

Press Trust of India

New Delhi: Dialogues on art history and art appreciation along with sessions focusing on different aspects of Indian art will also play a major role at the upcoming eighth Zee Jaipur Literature Festival.

A session on art as well as a look at the interplay between Buddhism and architecture with Llewelyn Morgan from Oxford University who will be discussing the Buddhist artworks at Bamiyan in Central Afghanistan is among the line up, organisers said.

Acclaimed Pakistani painter, writer and academic Salima Hashmi is also set to throw light on unknown masterpieces of Pakistani art at the literary festival that begins in Jaipur on January 21.

Celebrated British poet and great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel is another name to look out for during the event.

According to an updated list, released by organisers the literature festival has 181 participants and the number is expected to go up further.

As an integral part of the Indian narrative, one of the prominent theme for 2015 is set to be be cinema and its relationship with novels and theatre.

Kannada screenwriter, actor, director and winner of the Jnanpith Award Girish Karnad is set to be in conversation with prominent contemporary film-makers, and one of Britain’s most in-demand theatre directors, Tim Supple is scheduled to explore the influence of Shakespeare in contemporary Indian cinema.

Cinema giants and firm Festival favourites Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi would talk about poetry and Indian cinema. Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Vijay
Seshadri has been lined up to join prominent Hindi poets Kedarnath Singh and Vinod Kumar Shukla.

Acclaimed Marathi Dalit writer Urmilia Pawar and Mumbai based thespian Sushma Deshpande are set to speak of their theatrical collaborations in adapting Pawar’s autobiography “Aaydan” at the festival.

Celebrated British poet and great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel is another name to look out for during the event.


The Golden Lands: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand & Vietnam by Vikram Lall reviewed by Jame DiBiasio

9780789211941Asian Review of Books 

The Golden Lands: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand & Vietnam by Vikram Lall
reviewed by Jame DiBiasio

10 October 2014 — From Sri Lanka to Tibet to Japan, the expression of Buddhism through art and architecture tells a wider tale. Vikram Lall, a practicing architect and teacher in New Delhi, wonders at the mind-boggling diversity of Buddhist buildings. Indeed, the variety on hand in Bagan alone is a testament to the endless creativity of presenting a uniform set of philosophical and religious tenets.
Buddhism’s expansion has largely been a process of coexistence with other faiths rather than a premeditated program of displacement. Lacking a central organized Vatican, there is freedom to interpret Buddhism to suit local styles.

Some of the greatest monuments in Southeast Asia—the Shwezigon in Bagan, the Bayon in Angkor—housed local spirits as well as Buddhist imagery. In Shwezigon’s case, the purpose was to lure the masses with the local spirits, called nats, and thereby expose them to Theravada Buddhism. At the Bayon, the inclusion of animist and Hindu statuary was meant to help Angkor’s first Mahayana Buddhist king secure his position among the displaced and hostile Hindu aristocracy.

Lall traces such developments through the story of Buddhist architecture. Meant to be the first volume of a series spanning Buddhist architecture across Asia and the world, The Golden Lands focuses on Southeast Asia. He plans five more volumes, each covering a different geography, with the final one meant to incorporate contemporary Buddhist architecture in both Asia and the West.

Buddhist tolerance led to syncretism—a combination of various beliefs—making Lall’s task huge but fascinating.
He shows how the spread of the religion from the Ganges plain has manifested itself in many ways, from the square towers of China, creating the pagoda, to the giant stupa-temples such as Borobodur. Similarly, Lall traces how the humble caves that sheltered monks during India’s rainy season have evolved into the grand monasteries of Korea and Japan, or how the reliquaries built by King Asoka in India’s 3rd century BC morphed into the bell-shaped chedis of Thailand.
These iterations reflect indigenous traditions and materials. The monasteries of Bhutan are made of mud and doubled as forts; Upper Myanmar’s plains are dotted with brick temples; the Vietnamese Tran dynasty favored wood.

Despite all of these variations, they each perform the task of translating the core ideas of the Buddha, the Dhamma (teachings) and the Sangha (the priesthood or, sometimes, the community). This could be in the form of replicating the original Indian troika of building forms: the stupa, the temple and the monastery. Or it could reinvent these in other ways, sometimes adding new dimensions, such as the Japanese courtyards. Continue reading

Book: The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall

Golden-Lands-Book-cover-straight-on_750x782The first volume in a project described as “The first ever art historical survey focusing comprehensively on the Architecture of the Buddhist World.” – Buddhist Art News

The Buddhist Architecture of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam
by Vikram Lall
ISBN 978-0-7892-1194-1

The Golden Lands (1st edition, Sep 2014) is the first book in a groundbreaking new series exploring famous temples and sites from the Buddhist world from an architectural point of view.

Published by JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press New York
ISBN: 978-0-7892-1194-1 (N America, Europe) and 978-967-0138-03-9 (International / Direct)
Published September 2014
Hardcover, 280 pages
More than 300 full-color illustrations
RRP $95.00