The Nan Tien Temple’s 10-year vision for a new tertiary education campus and cultural centre is about to become a reality.
This Sunday, the temple will hold a ‘‘piling and blessing ceremony’’ to mark the start of construction on the Nan Tien Institute’s campus and art gallery.
The ceremony will be part of a day of activities, which also includes the inaugural graduation of students who have completed the institute’s certificate and diploma of Applied Buddhist Studies.
NTI will also use the occasion to host an information day, designed to recruit new students and the NTI’s new art exhibition unfolding: Australian Artists in the Asian Century will also be launched.
In 2001, Wollongong City Council sold the 11.6-hectare former landfill site opposite the temple on the western side of the F6 at Unanderra, for $1.
The Nan Tien Temple’s master plan was approved in 2006, but a separate development application was lodged for stage one of the campus.
Valued at about $30 million, the first stage includes a gallery, library, cafe, gift shop, teaching areas and administration buildings.
Stage one works also include remediation of the site, however initial plans for a 200m pedestrian bridge over the freeway linking the complex have been put on hold.
The first stage is due for completion in 2014, and the institute will eventually cater for 3000 postgraduate students.
The NTI’s Board Secretary Venerable Miao You said a piling ceremony was a tradition in many countries.
‘‘It is held to bless the project and mark the start of construction,’’ Rev You said.
‘‘This project has been in the design and pre-construction phase for a number of years and we are very excited to see building commence.’’
Architects Woods Bagot said the campus design’s inspiration was ‘‘the lotus flower, which rises and falls with the sun’’.
The Nan Tien Temple is one of 200 temples founded by the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order in 27 countries.
It opened in 1995 and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The Nan Tien Institute is intended to provide a university education covering topics such as environmental issues, life education and Buddhist ethics in business.