Set on a multi-acre site that looks onto a vast nature reserve as well as overlooking the town, it is the perfect site for a spiritual retreat. The center was a designed to be a place for those wanting to learn more about themselves through spiritual methods and approaches. The primary purpose of the building was to promote a variety of meditation and yoga techniques.
5 x Private Meditation Spaces
3 xGroup Studios
2 xTeaching Studios
On-site Parking / Swimming Pool / Shared Open Space
While the center was all about spirituality it was important to the clients that the building did not give the impression of being a church to be void of any religious or political motives. Other than a Zen garden the building should aim to remain as neutral as possible to serve as a level plain for people of all cultures and backgrounds. At the same time the building had to be monumental and welcoming. WOLF ARCHITECTS sensitivity to proportion was useful in creating the main building shape which was essentially a giant cube divided into two tall chambers based on the golden ratio. While physical modelling is a normal part of the design process WOLF ARCHITECTS literally built hundreds of physical models which seem ironic for a result that seems relatively simple in form. Those models were critical towards getting the perfect body of mass balanced perfectly on the site.
The Gap between the two tall chambers proved equally challenging to get right. Within the gap are a series of steps from which you enter passageways that link to various mediation chambers. At the end of a descending set of stairs to the buildings rear is a shallow water pool called the pool of faith. The only way to cross the pool is to take a giant leap of faith or to wade through it. That was an intentional part of the building designed to coincide with certain teachings and symbolism requested by the client.
“ Form for function and intention..”
Amongst the many customized elements of the project are the bathroom vanities which were carved out from solid sand stone blocks. Natural materials were specified as much as possible to be in keeping with themes of harmony with universe and getting in touch with nature.
“ A spiritual sanctuary designed to promote internal balance and harmonization.. ”
While light is always imperative in WOLF architecture this building wanted to feel internal as meditation is all about going within oneself and thus having large opening and expanses of glass was not a key part of the brief. Likewise there was no requirement for large open spaces and hallways as seen in church buildings. Thus within the main structure are smaller rooms and spaces to accommodate spiritual seeker in smaller numbers rather than in large groups on mass.
“ Monumental Elegance..”
The result is a massive minimalist structure clad in travertine. Its solid and heavy proportions stand firm in the open space satisfying the monumental impression required in the brief. The lack of articulation or large openings creates a sense of mystery and marvel which naturally draws you to inspect and enquire. The clients asked WOLF ARCHITECTS to study the ancient pyramids of Egypt and create a contemporary variation on obviously a much smaller scale.
Beyond the inner chambers and teaching spaces are small passageways which occasionally open up to the outdoors. These spaces are particularly conducive to practicing meditation or Yoga with views to the sun rising or setting over the nature reserves surrounding the site. Other than these few small opening the light predominantly comes from skylights and internal courtyard spaces.