This academy is perceived not as a mere retreat centre to learn and practice yoga and meditation, but rather as a shelter to embrace a certain way of life with the fundamental principle of self-discovery and awareness. The resultant design then is a harmonious composition of geometric built forms onto a fluid landscape,
‘A landscape seeking eternally to engulf the form and the users within them.’
Play on the horizon of natural ground is the foundational essence of this design. As one enters the site, the ground gradually rises above eye level directing to a large central pyramidal form- The Stupa. Closing the distance to the Stupa- the main meditation hall, the pathway steps down forming a sunken stepped well, creating an illusion of Stupa in its scalar magnificence humbly afloat on shallow waters. The interiors with the sheer scale and materiality of built forms give rise to a sense of capitulation and devotion similar to the experience within Dravidian temple architecture in India. Balanced by demure structures of yoga and meditation halls on all sides and the communal activities are concentrated at the centre, leaving the southern part of the site dedicated to individual Search- Meditate - Reflect needs of the academy. The height and form of Meditation spaces aid ventilation and reduces humidity internally. The extension of the form into the landscape at different levels bridges the transition between built and open. The slender curved roofs inspired by vernacular funnel structures extracts hot air keeping the interiors naturally cool and ventilated. The play of indirect light rejuvenates the calm essence of space. The workshops areas expand into a shared courtyard becoming partially open for the public to watch and experience the process.
The smaller meditation cubes on the southern edge are lit through a strip window above lintel level. The reflected light from the lintel water channel creates an ever-changing pattern on the rough concrete ceiling. The design is a portrayal of a catalogue of vernacular functional forms with a stylistic modernist appearance. The articulated ground itself acts as an essential civic infrastructure within the larger urban grain catering to the water table needs of the surrounding neighbourhood through a network of stepped wells and percolation tanks.
master peace: meditation and yoga retreat (communal poetry) | typology: cultural | date: september 2021 | location: alappuzha, india | team: ashish dalal | international design competition: third prize | client: archmello | built-up area: 15,355 sq.mts. |