Vajrasana Buddhist Retreat Centre

  • © Will Scott
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Will Scott
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Will Scott
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Will Scott
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Will Scott
  • © Dennis Gilbert/VIEW
  • © Will Scott

Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Award

Region

Eastern

Local Authority Area

St Edmundsbury

Information about this scheme

This is the first purpose-built Triratna Buddhist retreat in the UK; the Triratna community of Buddhists aims to engage with the Buddha’s teachings in the conditions of the modern world. With no exemplar to refer to, the design team needed to educate themselves about Buddhism and the practice of going on retreat, and then work out how to enable this in the architectural response. The approach was immersive: the team attended a weekend retreat and had extensive and detailed discussions with the client before putting pen to paper. Simple materials create a balance between deliberately modest architecture and the status attached to the shrine precinct. Materials include dark, multi-toned brick, zinc and charred timber, which is a response to the rural context and our interpretation of the local typology of the Suffolk barn.Courtyards have narrow apertures outwards and a focus inwards, creating a contemplative setting for the retreat’s activities. The building is both closed and inward looking and open in places with framed views out into the surrounding fields.  The accommodation is arranged around a series of courtyards of differing characters.  The large cloister like courtyard for is very well conceived and beautifully planted, with axial framed views out into the landscape and places for relaxation.  The sacred courtyards are designed as open air rooms inward looking or screened with great attention to detailing and ambiance. The building has been beautifully conceived in true collaboration with the client.  Its aim to sit lightly in the landscape and visually enhance it is exemplary.  It is a very sensual tactile building that has to be experienced and the architect has interpreted the client’s brief of producing a ‘beautiful’ building very well.

Credits

Architect

Walters & Cohen Architects

Client

London Buddhist Centre

Main Contractor

SEH French Limited

Landscape Architect

Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape

Structural Engineer

Price & Myers

Services Engineer

Skelly & Couch

Acoustic Engineer

Skelly & Couch

Quantity Surveyor

Holloway Squire Partnership

Project Manager

Holloway Squire Partnership

Lighting Design

Speirs + Major

Primary Use Class

Sui Generis - Other Use Class not listed above