The White Temple and Black houses of Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai is home to two unusual creations both built recently by Thai artists turned architects.

The White Temple

 

The Black Houses

The first of these creations, the Wat Rong Khun, also known as the white temple, started being built in 1997 and has a projected completion date of 2070! I suppose it should be finished about the same time as the Sagrada Famillia in Barcelona then.

The man behind the project is a millionaire artist, Charlemchai Kositpipat, who being quite popular with the Thai public, even has a cardboard cutout next to the temple.

He uses the passage through the temple to symbolize the Buddhist journey through life and rebirth, passing through hell and various temptations. Which would go some way to explaining what the hands reaching up from hell and the cigarettes were for.

 

Charlemchai is well known for his unusual art, which will often incorporate characters from popular culture, including movies and one particularly divisive American president. The pictures below were taken of some of the paintings in the adjacent museum.

He even chose to actually mix buddhist imagery and popular culture icons in the temple itself and I managed to sneak a couple of pictures using my iphone without anyone noticing. See if you can spot Kung Fu Panda, Neo from the matrix or the twin towers below.

On the other side of town, Thawan Duchanee, a former student of the White temple guy, appears to gone in the opposite direction from his previous mentor, by creating a macabre collection of imposing black houses covered in dead animal bones, where it is difficult not to feel like there must be some association with the occult.

 

Snake table runners

He additionally went and built a submarine like structure which appears to have some sort of torture chamber like instruments inside.