SunRay Kelley is one of the most unique architects in the US. The barefoot builder looks like a wizard, and many of his structures look like something dreamed up by JRR Tolkien. One of Kelley's most impressive creations is the temple at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California. The the round, cob structure features a large arched roof that is punctuated by a large sunroof with a cupola.
Photo by Mark Andrew Boyer
Part of the reason that SunRay Kelley’s buildings are so unique is because they are all handmade. Using nature as his guide, Kelley has built an estimated 50 organic structures, most of which are located in the Pacific Northwest. Of those, the Harbin Temple is perhaps his most ambitious commission. Kelley has said that the round structure is like a big yurt. The temple is located at Harbin Hot Springs, a popular hot springs resort and retreat located near Napa Valley. Inside, a 50-foot open space is used for yoga and quiet meditation.
The entire building is made of natural materials. The main structure of the temple is made of cob, a natural building material that is made of earth, straw and water. Cob is a fireproof material that can be formed into virtually any shape, and Kelley added some sculptural forms into the exterior of the structure. Large timber beams that are formed in a spiraling lattice design make up the structure of the roof, which resembles an arched toadstool (or a wizard’s hat). The roof is capped with a big, arched cupola, which has a similar shape as the roof, and a tall spire that is topped with a spiked ball.
Since the 1970s, Kelley has been building his unique handmade structures all over the West Coast. According to a recent New York Times profile, most of his current projects are small modular buildings and variations on a yurt. His most impressive collection of buildings is his Washington State homestead, where he has built seven houses of varying shapes and sizes. with its soaring ceiling and undulating walls, the Harbin Temple is his biggest and most impressive commission.
All photos by Mark Andrew Boyer. To view more photos of SunRay Kelley’s Harbin Hot Springs Temple, please visit our Flickr set.