Nestled at the foot of Mangwol Mountain in the northern part of Seoul, Junggak Temple recently bid welcome to a remarkable re imagining of the stupa, an ancient Buddhist monument.

The stupa, traditionally a simple mound of earth used in prehistoric times as a place of burial, has evolved over time to a place for meditation. Once again this form has been reborn as an entirely new architectural expression of the Buddhist path.

This new, glass-tower stupa stands as an expression of hope for the coming of Maitreya Buddha, and the realm of the Avatamska Sutra. 455 unique iron Buddha statues have been created by metal sculptor, Gyungja Lee. Lee has received the honored national status of Human Cultural Asset. The statues rest, encased in a 2.4 by 5.1m glass tower, on 78 duralumin plates in 3 rows, suspended midair by 3mm stainless steel wires.

We have tried to embed defining elements of Buddhism and the Buddhist scriptures in the design concept of the tower.

First, the scriptures define the existence of Buddha as, ‘one that has neither come nor left.’ Therefore we can state that Buddha is simply the man as he exists.

Albert Einstein once said: “Buddha is the only one who could perceive the void as I know, and if there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism”. We have hung these 455 iron statues midair to represent the Buddhist concept of the void; the 4 dimensional construct of space and time.

Matter is void. All is vanity. This Buddhist expression shows that, as the boundary between matter and the void dissolves, existence is revealed as illusion and illusion as existence. The visible and invisible become inseparable. To express this aspect of Buddhist philosophy, we etched the glass corners in a gradated pattern, seeking to blur the barriers between matter and the void.

2,028 Optical fiber lightings have been set into a granite stylobate as a metaphor of the eternal lamp and Buddhism’s desire to save mankind. After sundown, these transcendent sculptures multiply endlessly as their illuminated reflections scatter against the glass panels. Upon close observation, each viewing is unique as each person becomes the architect of their own viewing.

Enveloped in nature, this is a place for Zen meditation, contemplation of Buddha and of the void.

This new glass tower stupa sits behind of a pre-existing 1000 year old, 3-level stone tower and serves to complement the temple’s intention: to promote peace in the world, expressing love beyond the boundaries of space and time.

This is the way of the Buddha.



Tower Size: 2.4m x 2.4m x 5.1m(h)
Finish: roof - copperplate
Ceiling - juniper + copperplate
Glass - Low iron glass (8mm glass + SGP film + 8mm glass)
Plate - 15mm Duralumin + 3mm Stainless steel wires
Lighting - LED + 2,028 Optical fiber lightings

Project Manager: Kyeong Sik Yoon, Architect

Architectural Design: KACI International - Youngil Jang, Yoonjung Kim
Contractor: Woungki Hong, Junghyun Do
Civil % RC: Kwangsoo Oh
SC & Glass: AMR Inc.
Roof construction: Kyung Min Industrial Co.,Ltd. - Hansik Lee, Jonghwa Kim
Stone Construction: Newtech Marble - Kwanneun Kim, Sungtae Kwon
Lighting Design: Light and Shade - Sang Doo Shin
Set up Buddha statues: Yoon Sung - Soohoon Jung, Younghoon Won
Landscape construction: Seo An - Woogun Jung, Seungkyu Kim
Photograph: Jongoh Kim

Client: Junggak Temple - Buddhist monk Jungmok
Making Buddha Statues: Gyungja Lee, Yuna Lee

The Stupa of Mother : Buddha Hanging in Air by Kyeongsik Yoon in Korea, South won the WA Award Cycle 22. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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Jongoh Kim