Kiyomizu Dera Temple, Osaka, Japan ::
We went to Osaka, Japan to do research on urban planning and old street design. It is quite lovely to experience their asymmetrical urban planning, not just the design but also the culture.
The design of the temple is symmetrical, but the planning of the complex is far away from symmetry. See diagram below for its planning. The old street is leading uphill to the first gate which marks the beginning of the temple complex. The street is flanged by retail on both sides. The front gate is not visible from the bottom of the hill but it started to reveals itself as an off-center focus near the last quarter of the retail street. The temple complex continues uphill with different smaller buildings. The grand hall is located off center again but at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. This organic growth may be partly due to the topography, but it certainly feels very modern. It added a sense of discovery to the whole touring process. More information about the temple can be seen on The True Japan.
The best part of this tour is that Japaneses appreciate their own culture. Without proper stats, we saw at least 70% of local visitors at the temple. This UNESCO site is not just for tourist. So many other tourist spots in the world are crowded with foreigners, but local people are not exactly excited about their local landmark. It is also amazing to see how local Japanese come to the temple for fun and worship. Their love for their own heritage make this place so successful and attractive. This is exactly what I think planners, architects and politicians should do for their cities and spaces. We can be purely depends on the attractive designs. We need the ongoing education to teach the young generation to love their city. This kind of culture can almost makes any place enjoyable and alive. I think most people prefer to walk into a culture rather than a textbook photo.
Ruins of Saint Paul’s, Macau, China ::
The retail layout in front of Cathedral of Saint Paul is also very similar. The historic facade is at the top of the hill. Curvilinear street with retail on both sides leads people uphill to the grand finale. Of course, there is not much to see behind the ruins. It will be fantastic if the church can be rebuilt to provide additional cultural program.