Renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando brings harmony to the landscape by enclosing a large stone Buddha in a lavender covered hill. Located in the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo, Ando was charged with shaping the landscape around the pre-existing sculpture.
For 15 years, the 44-foot-tall Buddha stood alone as a solemn 1,650-ton figure in a field. “Until now, the Buddha statue has stood alone in the field, giving an unrestful impression. The client wanted to give visitors a more serene appreciation of the Buddha,” Ando shared. “Our idea was to cover the Buddha below the head with a hill of lavender plants. We called the idea the ‘head-out Buddha.'”
Visitors are invited to approach the Atama Daibutsu (The Buddha’s Head) via a 130-foot tunnel, the slow approach revealing the statue until one enters into an open dome, which allows the sky to act as a halo for the figure. The base of the mound is embraced by water gardens, providing added serenity to the scene. Here, Ando plays with elements of nature that slowly reveal the Buddha, whose head only slightly peers out of the mound.
From the exterior, the 150,000 lavender plants aid in the ever-changing mood of the monument. From the rich purple summer blooms and lush spring vegetation to a white snow-capped winter, with each new season the Hill of the Buddha takes on a different appearance. In this way, Ando allows the landscape to take control of the area, reshaping the way we view the manmade element inserted into the land.
“The project might be considered on the scale of landscape rather than architecture. It required a special frame of mind to rearrange the environment, and was a challenging and precious experience for us.” This isn’t the first time Ando, a self-taught architect who is now a leading figure in contemporary architecture, has used nature to define space. In the mid-1990s, his Awaji Yumebuta or “100 Stepped Garden” helped transform what was once destined to become a landfill into a community gathering space.
Japanese architect Tadao Ando created the spectacular “Hill of the Buddha” to encase a pre-existing, 44-foot-tall stone Buddha at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo.
Visitors walk through a long tunnel until they are face to face with the stone Buddha.
Surrounding water gardens embrace the landscape architecture.
150,000 lavender plants bloom brightly and fragrantly in the summer, while winter brings a snowy effect to the environment.
Watch this video to get a sense of Ando’s magnificent design.