Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2021
The title of this book might suggest that it is a specialized monograph on a specific building type – the ṭämpiṭavihāra (image-house) – in a particular place (Sri Lanka). It is, of course, that. However, by approaching the topic in an extremely thorough and multifaceted way, it manages to transcend the genre, which leads to three rather more general outcomes. One of these bears indirectly a method, not explicitly but by providing an example of good research.
The other more general outcomes are conceptual and provide both suggestions and material for further research. The study as a whole provides a good example of the importance of thorough research, showing that it may take time. It emphasizes the importance of a thorough understanding of built environments rather than the superficial, personal, purely visual judgements common in mainstream architecture and architectural criticism, typically illustrated with just photographs. In this case, there is a good use of photographs, drawings, and conceptual diagrams, the importance of which I have long emphasized. These greatly clarify many of the findings.
The research involves detailed historical, spatial (site and buildings), symbolic, iconographic, materials, construction, and behavioural aspects. It thereby encompasses the organization of space, time, meaning, and communication, a useful way of conceptualizing the built environment.
The thorough analysis of a small, apparently simple building type, the image-house in Sri Lanka and its rather unique construction shows how it is able to embody important aspects of Buddhism and can communicate many aspects of the Buddhist worldview. The communication of complex meanings such as the distinction between the sacred and the profane, and among degrees of sanctity, is achieved in a number of ways, using a variety of means, including raising the building on stone pillars, the location of the building on the site, iconography, and circulation. This re-emphasizes the important role of meaning in the built environment.
Conceptually this is the first (in fact only) study of which I know of the operation of the ‘model with variations’ in all aspects of a single building type. It provides evidence, documentation, and data (including the students’ very useful measured drawings in Part II).
To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.