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There are numerous possibilities for temple layouts.  Here are a few of the more common ones.

Bold-faced words are defined in the Glossary.

 

One Hall: One-hall temples may be fairly traditional in appearance, often having a utilitarian courtyard in front, entered by a simple gate.  In lieu of a central courtyard, many of these temples have an opening in the roof of the hall, creating in effect a courtyard within the hall.  Some of these have later been enclosed with tin or other simple material, to protect the furnishings from the rain.  In any case, these temples often have some kind of roof opening to permit the escape of smoke from the incense.
The main statue will be on the far wall, often surrounded by others. The usual Offering Tables, Censers, and Kneelers will be in front of it. There may be a door on one side or the other of the statue, leading to an office or restroom.
Along either side of the room will be counters for the sale of Oil, Incense, and other offerings, as well as--often--a Fortune Teller.  There are also often "side altars"--simply tables occupied by one or more statues, sometimes with their own Offering Table and Censer.
One-hall temples are usually deeper than they are wide; they may face in any direction, as they depend more on their urban environment than do other temples.
These small temples are often crowded, and overflowing with smoke.  One cannot help but feel the vital pulse of Belief, even in such a mundane location.

 
Storefront temples in Hong Kong:
Open-front (left) and with a door

Storefront:  A variation on the One-Hall layout, many "folk" temples are simply located in one building in a row of stores.  These will often have an open front, but may have a proper doorway.  As they are usually on the first floor of a multi-story building, there can be no opening in the roof; the open front permits the escape of incense smoke.

Lateral Halls: A variation on the one-hall style, in which two or more halls dedicated to different deities are located side by side, and share a common courtyard.  In most cases, at least one of the halls will be dedicated to Guan Yin.

Two-Hall: Sometimes called "two-hall, one-courtyard."  In this style, there are simply two halls separated by a courtyard (which may be enclosed at the ends by walls or by more utilitarian buildings).  There are often actually two more courtyards: one in front of the first hall, and the next between the first hall and the second hall.  Often, the first hall serves as a gateway to the second; at some temples I have simply called them "the Main Gate" and "the Main Hall," but in this design the first hall is more properly called the "Entrance Hall."
Two-hall temples are usually wider than they are deep; they usually face South.

Example: Guan Gong Temple, Nantou

Three-hall: Sometimes called "three-hall, two-courtyard."  This is the grandest style, common in Buddhist temples; here is an excellent description of just such a temple.  In this style, one encounters an alternation: hall - courtyard - hall - courtyard - hall.  There are often actually two more courtyards: one in front of the first hall, and the next between the first hall and the second hall.  As shown on the right, in some cases the halls are not entered, but rather are walked around.  In this case visitors look into the hall through the doorway.
Three-hall temples are usually wider than they are deep; they usually face South

Links to examples will be added as pages are developed.

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