That Nak Temple Stupa, 17th century, conservation project
Australian Embassy & Lao Ministry of Information & Culture, in collaboration with Restaurateurs Sans Frontières
The new Australian Embassy project fences construction works threatening the neighbor 17th century Wat That Nak stupa monument in Vientiane conducted the Australian Embassy to fund this Lao Buddhist monument conservation project. The architects of Les Ateliers de la Peninsule were hired to design and implement the stupa renovation works demanding first to identify the monument original construction materials and construction techniques. Les Ateliers de la Peninsule associated with “Restaurateur sans Frontieres” in Bangkok managed by Robert Bougrain Dubourg specialist in monument conservation originally from the Avignon school in France.
The project required first to implement a masonry conservation detail survey to identify all remaining moldings parts that allowed re-designing the stupa entire layout.
“Restaurateurs sans Frontieres” scope of works planed the following actions needed prior implementing any renovation works:
– Chemical treatment to eradicate all vegetation growing on the monument and breaking the masonry works
– Monument mortar and remains color sample to be analyzed in a laboratory in Bangkok to identify the mortar original components and original color natural pigments
This 17th century stupa has a very particular layout organizing four niches on each cardinal orientation facing North, South, East and West displaying four Buddha figures that need renovations and missing part replacement. These Buddha figure renovation work was implemented by young heritage specialist trainees from the heritage conservation school of Avignon who came in Laos to implement some molding with silicon molds to replicate some Buddha missing parts. These replicas required then an aging work with special painting techniques using natural pigment and gold leaves.
On That Wat Nak stupa top four other smaller niches where existing certainly displaying smaller missing Buddha statues. The Australian Embassy donated 2 silver plated Buddha and Ateliers de la Peninsule donated 2 other silver plated Buddha statues that have been installed into the stupa top small niches on the That Wat Nak opening ceremony under the leadership of the Wat Nak Buddhist monks and venerable.