Posts Tagged ‘Temple’

bottle-2 bottle-detail

Monks in Thailand have built a temple complex from over 1 million recycled beer bottles. Above is the temple and a detail from the roof.


Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, also known as Wat Lan Kuad or ‘the Temple of a Million Bottles’, is in Sisaket province near the Cambodian border, 400 miles from the capital Bangkok.

The Buddhist monks began collecting beer bottles in 1984 and they collected so many that they decided to use them as a building material. They encouraged the local authorities to send them more and they have now created a complex of around 20 buildings using the beer bottles, comprising the main temple over a lake, crematorium, prayer rooms, a hall, water tower, tourist bathrooms and several small bungalows raised off the ground which serve as monks quarters.


A concrete core is used to strengthen the building and the green bottles are Heineken and the brown ones are the Thai beer Chang. The bottles do not lose their colour, provide good lighting and are easy to clean, the men say. The monks are so eco-friendly that the mosaics of Buddha are created with recycled beer bottle caps.

Altogether there are about 1.5 million recycled bottles in the temple, and the monks at the temple are intending to reuse even more. Abbot San Kataboonyo said: “The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make.”

The beer bottle temple is now on an approved list of eco-friendly sight-seeing tours in southeast Asia.

For more information go to http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/temple-built-from-beer-bottles.php

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The Upper Room,  Manhattan Island, New York

 The Upper Room, Esplanade/Albany Street, Manhattan, New York

For the past few years a major reclamation and restoration effort has been going along around the south western edge of Manhattan Island in New York. A series of public parks have been built along the waterfront of the Hudson river, starting from the Battery park by the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  The parks  contain monuments to the victims of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and public works of art.

The Upper Room is situated next to the Esplanade facing the waterfront at the end of Albany street.  The work is the creation of Ned Smyth.

The art of Ned Smyth is based on what he calls ”the idea of a power spot.” He speaks of cathedrals, ancient ruins and desert oases as influences, and now he has created a power spot of his own in Manhattan -a kind of secular temple near the financial district, on the Hudson River.

Part sculpture and part architecture, ”The Upper Room,” is based on Egyptian, Greek, Roman and sundry other ancient architectures. The work resembles a raised courtyard or plaza, and overlooks a breathtaking stretch of the Hudson River. The 70-foot-long courtyard is surrounded by concrete columns, richly decorated with colorful inlaid stones. A long concrete table, with stools, stands near its middle, with a row of smooth chess boards inlaid into the tabletop.

The east end of the plaza also contains a curious structure that holds a key to the work – the courtyard’s own ”power spot.”

The structure is a small, temple-like building whose four columns support a pyramidal roof, which in turn covers a roughly eight-foot-high column whose top bursts, in a most un-columnlike fashion, into a form suggesting a spray of palm leaves.

”It’s not a cross or a five-pointed star or a Buddha,” Mr. Smyth said. ”It’s simply life – the tree of life. Here we are in this neighborhood of huge buildings, and this environment invites us to walk into its space and be touched. To come into a place where we can be at peace, rather than grab a sandwich and run back to our desks.”

A magnet for Wall Street brown-baggers, it is also a favorite resting place for strollers along the esplanade, one of the choicest waterfront walks in the city.

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Richard Shapiro’s Palladian folly in the Hollywood Hills

Eccentricity and excess mark a centuries-old tradition.


 Richard Shapiro’s folly began, as many great things do, with the smallest of ambitions. Though the modern art collector and antiques dealer already had seven fireplaces in his 1920s Holmby Hills villa, he wanted an outdoor hearth. A place, he recalls, where, “I could sit in front of a roaring fire during a rainstorm or on a cold winter night.”

Shapiro’s design for an alfresco fireplace soon soared into architecture on helium, a Greco-Roman portico based on the precise mathematical principles of 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. “I thought it might be hokey,” the 63-year-old aesthete admits, “but then I accepted that what I was really doing was a folly.”

At first he considered housing his outdoor fireplace in a modern structure, “four posts and a cover that would stand in juxtaposition to the Mediterranean architecture of the house,” he says. It would echo the way he placed minimalist sculptures and 20th century artworks amid the classical columns and ornate moldings inside his home.

It was a leap of the imagination to Neoclassicism. Having toured much of northern Italy, hopping from picturesque villas to village flea markets while buying antiques for his gallery on Melrose Avenue, Shapiro had become “smitten by history,” he says. “I want to touch the ages.”

Shapiro determined that he “would follow to the letter” the formula of Palladio’s Villa Chiericati, a building in Vincenza with a facade that Shapiro had visited and liked. Palladio, he says, is “one of those guys who is both ancient and modern. There’s spareness and efficiency in his designs. He took the basic proportions of the Greeks and Romans and updated it, making it grander and taller.”

A self-taught designer and architectural scholar, Shapiro drew up the plans for his engineer and contractors. “Once you lock into Palladio’s proportions, it’s very simple,” he says. “If the diameter of the column is X, their height has to be Y. If the height is Y, the building has to be Z wide.”

When it was complete, he would make it look even more authentic by ever so gently destroying it. “I liked the idea of deceiving myself,” Shapiro says, “to look out the window and see an ancient ruin.” Situated at the end of the algae-green pool that Shapiro loves to see covered in leaves, Shapiro’s Palladian portico exemplifies the architectural exuberance and excess of the folly.

From the bottom of its distressed concrete steps to the ornamental half-moon that sits at the peak of its triangular pediment, Shapiro’s Palladian folly stands more than 21 feet tall.The four Ionic columns were made from redwood by Joe Madden of Madden Millworks in San Pedro. They were fitted with resin capitals and fiberglass bases slathered in lime and plaster, then painted by a Hollywood scenic designer to achieve Shapiro’s primary aesthetic goal.

“Decrepitude,” he proclaims. “I think filthier is better. If you study European construction, it’s not nearly as fussy and refined. Here, if someone gets a little flaking paint on their house, it’s a panic situation.” To prove his point, Shapiro has been known to pour coffee and tea on paving stones and cement to give them a more aged patina. He is thrilled that the plaster in the portico has hairline cracks and vines are creeping across the walls. “I think it is a bit of a sore thumb, but that is softened by the foliage around it,” he says. “If I had it to do over I would destroy it even more.”

Behind the portico’s impressive facade, which could keep company with Washington, D.C., landmarks (complete with reflecting pool), the room has 13-foot ceilings and measures 19 feet across. Walls curve to meet a 19th century stone reproduction of a Renaissance hearth purchased in Antwerp, Belgium.

Folly is defined as a nonsensical creation or activity,” Shapiro says. “I not only qualify, I take that as a compliment.” Shapiro’s folly is in the grand tradition of European eccentricity.


This article by David A. Keeps appeared in the LA Times in June 2005

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Greek Style garden shed from Folly by Design



Fancy a folly but lack the funds to commission or the expertise to build one?



An American firm, Folly by Design, has come up with the answer. They will sell you a set of plans to build a shed with a mock Roman, Egyptian or Greek front door. Plans start from $49.95 for a 6′ x 8′ frame structure. Technical assistance is available by phone or email. Customisation for an extra fee, and if you live in the New York metro area they can even arrange to build it for you. 

Here is the preamble from their website: 

Welcome to FollybyDesign. We offer the discriminating consumer an alternative to the outdoor shed by providing plans for the completion of a ruin or folly structure. The concept of a wooden shed with a false facade is based on the time-honored tradition of the English folly building. It is intended to offer the view a diversion in the landscape while providing a practical solution to outdoor storage and/or garden needs.  


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