This Giant Wind Tunnel Allows Shaolin Monks To Fly While Training

The Shaolin monks and members of the public are propelled into the air by incredible wind tunnel technology.

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Thanks to an innovation designed by Latvian architect Austris Mailītis, the legendary Shaolin monks in Henan, China, can fly when they practice and train in the ancient art of kung fu. Mailītis’ firm, Mailītis Architects, developed the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple which features a unique levitation pavilion in addition to a giant theater. A wind tunnel is what allows the monks to experience flight.

As Inhabitat shares, the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple exists as an amphitheater and platform for artistic performances, which means members of the general public can experience its grandeur, as well.

The structure is a mix of East meets West and is inspired by the nearby Song Mountains in central China. The design is intended to respect the natural environment and historical birthplace of Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu.

“The concept is partially based on the phenomenon of levitation explored by the Shaolin monks for centuries,” said Mailītis. “Now they will all have an opportunity to try levitating. The idea is focused on growth, a spiritual and physical chance of making the next step towards solving the mystery of levitation.”

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Had Mailītis not fortuitously met with people from Shaolin while exploring the Shanghai Expo 2010, the extraordinary temple may not exist. Shortly after, the Latvia Pavilion was installed.

The 300-square-meter theater’s name translates to “mountain in the wood” and is capable of seating 230 people. It was carefully sculpted to mimic the curves of a mountain and the horizontal plane of the Earth. In many ways, the giant wind tunnel mimics a large tree with branches which symbolizes the vertical column of spirituality.

“The building method combines modern and ancient technologies – a laser-cut steel superstructure supports stone steps handcrafted using local quarry resources,” explained the architects.

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Aerodium can be credited with manufacturing the wind tunnel technology which propels the monks and visitors into the air with powerful gusts of wind. Unless one knows where the wind tunnel engine room is located, they’d be completely oblivious to its existence. As it is, the engine room is hidden below the stage and is covered by a soundproof perforated surface that intakes air.

Just like the elements, shapes are given important meaning in Chinese culture. The rounded form of the theater respects the beautiful mountain landscape and is considered to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. Weekly shows are intended to be held in the amphitheater as plenty of space is afforded in its interior and exterior spaces.

Following are images of the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple:

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Credit: Austris Mailītis

Credit: Austris Mailītis

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