The Himi Center was designed by Mr. Sawada, an architect who has also designed many Shinrankai facilities such as Hon-kan and Sei-hondo at the Shinrankai Headquarters. He has been asked to design buildings which have “dignity suitable for Shinrankai.”
“How do I interpret the meaning of ‘dignity’? How do I show it in the design? This sums up the life and outlook of an architect and is what I strive for,” said Sawada.
As a matter of course, the building for the Himi Center should satisfy its physical needs or functions such as room numbers, attendee capacity, and space. According to him, however, the way in which he effects the “extra factor” of dignity is something that can show his ability. The appearance of the building is supposed to convey an immediate message, “This is a place where Buddhism is taught.”
As for the lecture hall, the top priority is for people to concentrate on listening to Buddhist teaching, rather than creating a relaxing environment. With those requirements in mind, he worked on the design, even giving up his New Year holidays.
Twenty five years ago, he was not a Shinran Follower yet, and his only connection to Shinrankai was designing its building. But Sawada wanted to understand the true nature of Shinrankai and so he joined the Buddhist lectures again and again. Then he completed a beautiful and strong white palace, the Main Building.
“I was very satisfied at that time. However, now that the Himi Center has been born, the sense of fulfillment I feel is totally different from the satisfaction back then. I think that is because now I have Buddhism as the foundation of my own life.”
He says that even in designing, he has a standard to go by as a Shinran Follower. “If I did not have such a standard, I might have focused on something non- essential. For example, I would have tried to come up with a novel design to fulfill my own desire. With a proper standard, I was able to get rid of such misguided thoughts, stick to the basics, and work on the design in a Buddhism spirit.
On the day of the opening lecture at Himi Center, he was relieved to see that Shinran Followers attending were delighted. “Buildings are not just boxes. According to the purpose of each building, I design the whole space to respond to the users’ needs. This makes the space a unique asset to the building. My goal is to design buildings where visitors can build a closer relationship with Amida Buddha and say, ‘whenever I visit I enjoy being in that building,’ or ‘I’d love to go there again!’”
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #37 | 2018, Build a Shinran Center Which People Want to Visit Again
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The Buddhist Village Times #37