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Syn Architects takes us to The Hometown Moon and return

Nestled into the sacred mountainous area of Taia’an, China, The Hometown Moon is a project of philosophical symbolism and duality.

Syn Architects takes us to The Hometown Moon and return

A long winding path leads from the parking lot – one final reminder of civilisation – towards The Hometown Moon. The five to ten minute walk winds through mountains and streams, and the noise of the human world is replaced by the sound of birds, rustling leaves and moving water. The purpose of this short pilgrimage is for visitors to “enjoy communion with nature” before reaching the breathtaking ceremony hall.

A winding pathway leads through rocks and trees to The Hometown Moon.

Designed by Syn Architects, The Hometown Moon is a spiritual hall nestled into the lush mountainous area, near Tai’an City, China.

The project was commissioned by Lushang Group to encourage travelers to visit areas beyond the main nearby attraction of Mount Tai. Just north of the Tai’an, Mount Tai has been a place of cultural and sacred significance for at least 3000 years and is recognised as the foremost of the five great mountains of China.

A white half-sphere shape is illuminated in the distance.

The location was specifically chosen by Syn Architects to establish a connection between the natural and manufactured aspects of the area. Consequently, it sits by a mountain stream, looking over Hometown Cloud – another project developed by the Lushang Group – allowing the two constructed sites to become symbolic counterparts in nature.

The lead architect and planner of the project, Zou Yingxi, “longs for a moon that never sets”. As such, he combined geometric shapes and simple materials in a half-sphere shape, part of which rises externally from a body of water, reflecting to appear whole.

A white half moon shape is illuminated at nighttime and reflected in the water.

The rest protrudes below into a cave-like underworld, a calming space that has no external interference. Down here the world feels inverted, with water-like movement on the corrugated steel ceiling providing a horizon for the moon to rise out of, albeit upside down, and the curved cavity of the moon wall forming a natural echo chamber.

The concave nature of the moon’s shape allows light to be drawn from above the surface and reflected into the area underneath, negating the need for artificial lights, while changes in the light throughout the day change the appearance of the room and the moon itself.

The architectural language reflects the philosophical concept of duality through the two sides of the moon. The upper side represents the yang principle, meaning sun, light and mountains, while the lower represents yin – darkness, cold, earth and the moon. Together, they form a balanced project.

The Hometown Moon is a religious space, meant to be used as a chapel. As such, spiritual ideals have been instilled into the building. Ideas central to Buddhism, such as harmony, perpetuity and endlessness are represented, along with the Taoist concept of emptiness and the Confucius concept of providing physical shelter.

“Since the completion of the building, it has started a dialogue with users and nature. I look forward to seeing it being modified over time, further blending with the environment as the trees grow,” says Zou Yingxi.

“It will be the highest achievement of my career. For this reason, I will bestow deeper meaning to my architecture and create more emotional bonds for its users…Even if it disappears in time, it will still exist in our spiritual world.”

Syn Architects

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