Exacting surveying standards for unique structure: Nan Tien Institute 

The Nan Tien Temple on the outskirts of Wollongong is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2015, it opened Australia’s first government accredited Buddhist college and took nearly two years to complete with precision surveying and construction.

The Nan Tien Institute is both a tertiary educational facility and multicultural art gallery and sits on 11.68 hectares, the site of a former garbage tip bought from local council for AUD$1. The 6,000sqm project, designed by Woods Bagot architects, has four distinct building pods to resemble a Lotus flower emerging from the mud.

ESG Project Summary:

We were excited to be part of such an innovative, contemporary design in Phase 1 of this building project in 2014 that required survey accuracy of the highest order,” comments ESG Senior Surveyor Graeme Clarke.

Among the variety of set out tasks required, 3 storey high curved pre-cast panels following the design lines of lotus leaves (see photo) were constructed and freighted from South Australia. Installation required all survey set out marks to be accurate to 1mm for everything to fit like a glove.

ESG worked in partnership with KFW Infrastructure professionals and Richard Crookes throughout all construction phases and provided extensive construction set out services. Our expert surveyors were on site for 8 months to achieve specific tasks including:

  • All preliminary earthworks and pier installations
  • Survey Control densification
  • Setting out lift shafts and stairwells
  • Site set out of grids, columns, edge boards and wet areas
  • Set out for all curved 3 Storey pre cast panels
  • Set out all structural steel within the building
  • Set out curved ceilings and other formwork
  • Set out for external carparks and drainage


Stage One of the Nan Tien Institute (NTI) accommodates 300 students and 30 staff with:

  • Over 20,000m2 gross floor area of facilities for tertiary education and community functions
  • On-site parking for 750 cars
  • An Arts Centre to feature multi-cultural exhibitions and local artists


The NTI vision is to expand the facility further to become a University to cater for 3000 students.

Regional fanfare for 2015 opening

Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott officially opened Nan Tien Buddhist Institute on 1 March 2015.

From October 2016, Wollongong became an international cruise ship port with Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas stopping for day trip exploration of the area, including the Nan Tien Temple. More than 16,000 visitors are expected to arrive via these ocean liners injecting more than $2.8 million into the local economy according to Royal Caribbean Managing Director Adam Armstrong.

ESG continues to expand surveying services (and success stories) within NSW with more projects in the works for Sydney and Wollongong as well as WA, QLD and VIC. Contact ESG about survey and engineering services for any project that requires expert construction surveying.


Completed: 2015
Architect: Woods Bagot

Looking for a quality surveyor for your next project?