Call for Submissions: Temple University Miniature Stupa Design Contest 天普大学小型佛塔设计比赛

Call for Submissions: Temple University Miniature Stupa Design Contest 天普大学小型佛塔设计比赛

Temple University Miniature Stupa Design Contest



Stupas, originally large earth mounds containing Buddhist relics, are common to all forms of Buddhism and were built and venerated for more than 2000 years all over Asia. They also were miniaturized for various devotional purposes and used in rituals or as reliquaries.

In this contest prizes will be awarded for the three best proposals for a 3D-printable miniature stupa. The function of the stupa is to serve as container for a small (2*1 cm) capsule. The capsule contains the Chinese version of the Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist text, encoded in synthetic DNA. The miniature stupa must be able to open and close (to deposit the capsule) and should not exceed a volume of c. 12*12*15 cm. Multiple parts are possible, perhaps necessary, but the stupa should be reproducible with minimal post-printing finish. Removing supports, polishing, gluing of printed parts, and glazing/painting is acceptable. Research in the history of form and function of traditional miniature stupas is encouraged. Next to judging function and design, the jury will look how the submission enters in a dialog with traditional stupa architecture and its miniaturization.

The winner of the contest must commit to produce twenty identical stupas and deliver them to Temple University within eight weeks of notification. Printing filament and associated expenses up to $1000 USD will be funded in addition to the award.

佛塔本为舍利容器,过去两千多年间,在亚洲佛教世界广为流布。除建筑佛塔外,还有诸多大小形制不一的小型佛塔存世,以满足信众的不同供养之意。美国天普大学(Temple University)组织此次3D佛塔设计比赛,欢迎来自世界各地的参赛者。入選者需提交20件小塔,寄至天普大学。

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Awards 奖项:

1. Prize: $1600 USD (+ max. $1000 USD production and delivery expenses)

2. and 3. Prize: $200 USD each


Submission deadline for design contest 截止日期:

April 15th, 2022

The following needs to be submitted to the Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio, Temple University Libraries:

  • Sample: one printed sample stupa
  • Digital Model: the file (.obj, .stl, etc.) used to print the sample
  • Essay: 2-5 page essay on the design principles of your stupa, assembly instructions etc.


Background Narrative:

Stupas were originally conceived as receptacles for relics of the Buddha, i.e. the ashes and bones left over after his cremation. Next to relics of the physical body of the Buddha, Buddhists believe that his “Dharma-body”, the sum of his teachings, is what remains and deserves veneration. By encoding a Buddhist text in DNA, the Dharma-body is again expressed in the fundamental basic constituents of the human body – in four different amino acids that contain the code to build the rest of the body. The encoded text, the Diamond Sutra, is a core Mahāyāna text widely read and distributed throughout Asia. The oldest extant printed book is a copy of the Diamond Sutra. Like many Buddhists texts it is anti-essentialist in its message and counters the reification of Buddhist soteriological concepts by insisting that those striving for truth must do so “without relying on anything 無所住.” We have produced a DNA version of the Diamond Sutra that is encased in a small metal capsule. The miniature stupa is to house the capsule.



This contest is a collaboration between Temple Libraries, the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and the College of Liberal Arts. It is funded through the 2020-22 Presidential Humanities and Arts Award “Sutra2DNA – Exploring Digital Cultural Heritage Data Preservation via DNA Storage” (Marcus Bingenheimer, Rob KulathinalJustin Brody).



Please direct all questions to Prof. Marcus Bingenheimer (