Landscape Architecture of Thai Temples, and Buddhist Integrated Learning and Health Promotion

Wutthinan Kuntathian

Abstract


This research had three objectives: (1) to study concepts, structures and characteristics of temples in the Buddha's time, (2) to study structures and landscape architectural characteristics of Thai temples, and (3) to analyse Thai temple's landscape architecture, and Buddhist-integrated learning and well-being promotion. This qualitative research comprised three methods: (1) literature review and analysis, (2) non-participatory observation and interviews, and (3) a focus group. Collecting and analysing data, the researcher used an analytical framework of three types of space i.e (1) physical space, (2) social space, and (3) spiritual or wisdom space. Findings showed that, temples in the Buddha's time were developed on the basis of the principles of suitability (sappāya) and joyful (ramaniya), both of which are reflected in the term, "ārāma." Two goals are emphasized, namely, (1) to be a place of renunciation [pahānārāma] and (2) to be a place of kusala cultivation. [bhāvanārāma]. The landscape architectural characteristics of Thai temples in the past and present are influenced by three main concepts: (1) cosmology and Tribhumi, (2) the principle of sappāya and (3) a combination of cosmology, Tribhumi and the principle of sappāya, including local wisdom. The five studied cases provided spaces based on their resources and suitability. Regarding the promotion of well-being, all of the five temples provided spaces that mutually supported physical, social and spiritual (or wisdom) well-being. It is recommended that Thai temples' landscape development should first focus on the physical aspect. An important thing is to emphasize cooperation with communities or people to meet real needs. However, all should share the same goal. That is, temples should be peaceful and pleasant places of dhamma, which is the goal of temple construction.

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