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The Art of Architecture

Mr. Kris Yao, a renowned Taiwanese architect, delivered a lecture on campus on 7 November as the speaker of the University Lecture on Civility.

Mr. Yao began his lecture by introducing the audience to his ideas of architecture. He said, 'I'd like to use two Chinese words to encapsulate my ideas of architecture. One is 'tang' (hall) and the other is 'ao' (obscurity). According to him, what you see when you open a door of a building is 'tang'; what you don't see in obscurity is 'ao'. 'Tang' is something direct, visible and formal, while 'ao' is something obscure, imaginary. But he said that they are not opposing ideas. Rather, they are complementary like Yin and Yang. When put together, they represent a whole. Then he used some of his architectural projects to illustrate how these two ideas had informed and inspired his creation.

The Water-Moon Dharma Centre at the Dharma Drum Mountain Nung Chan Monastery was another project that Kris Yao talked about in his lecture. The architect recalled that when he asked Master Sheng Yen about his idea of the building. The monk replied: 'the moon on the water, flowers in the sky.' Yao said, 'This was the briefest building instructions I've ever been given.' To express this concept, the architect used intangible elements like water, wind, light and shadow.

In the Q&A session, Yao used a quote from a Zen master to encourage architecture students: 'In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.' So he urged students to always keep the passion they have at this moment alive.


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