Nan Tien Temple design inspired by lotus

An artist's impression of the bridge that will span the F6, connecting the Nan Tien Temple with the Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre. Picture: WOODS BAGOT

An artist's impression of the bridge that will span the F6, connecting the Nan Tien Temple with the Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre. Picture: WOODS BAGOT

The expansion of Wollongong's Nan Tien Temple will include ground-breaking architectural concepts never seen before in Australia.

As building work continues on the Nan Tien Institute in Unanderra, details behind the $18 million project linking the Nan Tien Temple with the Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre have been revealed.

A bridge will rise from what was a tip and will straddle the F6, connecting the campus with the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.

The bridge would represent "the enlightened journey of learning", the project's director said.

Georgia Singleton, from architects Woods Bagot, said the project was unique.

"The bridge is more than a bridge and the building more than a building. The philosophy around the design sets it apart from everything else," Ms Singleton said.

The first building of the new campus on the western side of the F6 at Unanderra would be "ecclesiastical" in function but take its inspiration from the lotus flower.

"The lotus flower is virtually grown from nothing, it gets its nutrients from the environment, and that is how the building is designed," Ms Singleton said.

It featured green space along its length designed to bring life and energy to the link over the highway.

The design featured extensive landscaping representative of the strong Buddhist connection to the environment.

While the architects were specifically sought out by the Nan Tien Institute, it was not for any religious affiliation.

"An architect's role is to get into the minds of the client and that's exactly what we've done," Ms Singleton said.

"We needed to get a clear sense of their value proposition, and that is what has emerged."

The temple attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year and its importance to the Illawarra's economy has aided the project.

"It ticks the boxes of tourism and education for the council and their support has been hugely important," she said.

The building is expected to be completed this year and the bridge 12 months later.

The Nan Tien Temple opened in 1995 and is one of 200 temples founded by the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order in 27 countries.

The Nan Tien Institute is intended to provide a university education covering topics such as environmental issues, life education and Buddhist ethics in business.

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