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Meditation Spaces

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Meditation Spaces

In architecture, we have encountered a number of individual environments or entire buildings created specifically for a particular function. The opportunity to see or even design spaces where the main goal is based on experience or observation is rare. In other words, an architectural object that is not designed for use, but for more spiritual and psychological reasons such as yoga or meditation spaces.

For several decades, a set of oriental practices and techniques have strongly infiltrated the western world. A new program that, as architects, we must start solving more often, and that poses interesting challenges from the point of functional, environmental, and aesthetic.

These disciplines are completely focused on the human being, as they seek to work and satisfy their physical, psychological and spiritual needs, and that’s why it seems important to analyze how these needs are being met spatially by architects. Many of the operations taken in these spaces create enabling environments for reflection, introspection, healing, and therefore could also be applied in other relevant programs, such as housing, educational, hospital, and even office spaces.

In this article we bring you some tips you should consider in case you are going to design a meditation space, which is much more than a place  for wealthy stressed-out city folk to flee in order to rest and recharge.

YogaOne Mandri - Studio Shito. Barcelona, Spain. Image by Marcela Grassi
YogaOne Mandri - Studio Shito. Barcelona, Spain. Image by Marcela Grassi

SPACES

Although each practice may require specific characteristics, most take place in a large open central space, accompanied by a set of support rooms.

Meditation Pavilion & Garden - GMAA. Geneva, Switzerland. Image by A.Korour
Meditation Pavilion & Garden - GMAA. Geneva, Switzerland. Image by A.Korour

Main Room

This is the central space of the building where people gather for practice, and generally is a free plan, flexible and adaptable to different uses. To determine its dimensions, we can use the standard measures of a yoga mat, which unfolds fully stretched in an area of approximately 1.70 x 60 meters. It is suggested to leave at least 50 cm between the mats, to allow the free movement of users during the exercises.

Some of these rooms have a small platform or elevated area where the instructor or guide of the session is located, and it is good to add shelves or countertops where people can leave their ‘tools’ during the class (water bottles, towels, blankets, slippers). Usually, the room has mirrors on one or more walls, but this depends on the needs and the taste of the client.

Centro Holístico Punto Zero - Dio Sustentable. Putaendo, Chile. Image by Jean Pierre Marchant y Fernando J. Romero 1
Centro Holístico Punto Zero - Dio Sustentable. Putaendo, Chile. Image by Jean Pierre Marchant y Fernando J. Romero

Bathrooms / Dressing Rooms

Not all centers include dressing rooms, but if there are resources and space, it is good to add. In the case adding them in, you can increase the size of the bathrooms allowing dual use. To achieve this objective and allow the space to be occupied by more than one person at a time, in several projects toilet area is separated from the sink, that is being associated with a kind of small dressing room, which may also include lockers, shelves, and benches.

Toilets should be located adjacent to the main room, with a quick and easy access from the main entrance area.

Circulations

Circulations gain great importance in this kind of projects, because not only can function as corridors or hallways, but also can contain storage spaces, waiting and resting areas, or even a reception. Some cases also take advantage of the walls to incorporate built-in shelves.

Others

Depending on the order received, the building may include several classrooms, plus massage cabins or jacuzzi, sauna and swimming pools areas. The height of the spaces is a choice of each client and architect, but the main room, at least, is designed in most cases with a greater height.

YogaOne Mandri - Studio Shito. Barcelona, Spain. Image by Marcela Grassi
YogaOne Mandri - Studio Shito. Barcelona, Spain. Image by Marcela Grassi

ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS

Acoustics

There is a belief that these spaces must be completely silent, but precisely the idea of these disciplines is to be developed in spite of the ambient noise. In fact, in many cases, it is recommended to fully perform in exteriors, as many sounds of nature can help a better realization of different practices. In the case of closed rooms, these sounds (and even smells) can be integrated by incorporating indoor courtyards or gardens that attract birds, including moving water, and/or allow the flow of the wind.

Obviously, if a practice requires complete silence, the design must allow that the space can be completely isolated.

Ventilation

This is a fundamental issue in these practices, since they all use breath as the basis for its development. It is important to allow cross ventilation across the room, making sure that there is a certain current renew of oxygen inside, during the session or at the times when the room is not being occupied. For this, we should generate a first opening in the facade that receives the prevailing winds, and a second opening (preferably bigger) on the opposite wall.

Cabaña de Meditación - Jeffery S. Poss Architect. Illinois, Estados Unidos. Image by Jeffery S. Poss
Cabaña de Meditación - Jeffery S. Poss Architect. Illinois, Estados Unidos. Image by Jeffery S. Poss

Ilumination

The light allows to qualify environmentally the space and can help to lead the intension of the practice being done. In the case of Yoga, direct connection to the sun is essential in many of their exercises. That’s why we should always favor natural lighting, and is necessary, to incorporate systems to regulate their intensity, allowing darken the room completely if necessary.

In order to avoid glare, in most of the projects, light does not fall directly on people, and have been used zenithal openings, windows at floor level, fuzzy screens, and light courtyard surrounding the main room.

If practices are carried out at night, artificial lighting choice should be warm and also adjustable.

Spa Querétaro - Ambrosi I Etchegaray. Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. Image by Luis Gordoa
Spa Querétaro - Ambrosi I Etchegaray. Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. Image by Luis Gordoa

Aesthetics and Materials

The aesthetics of space depends entirely on the client requirement, but generally, you should avoid distracting elements or exaggerated decorations. It is recommended using warm materials and soft colors (or directly white) to help attendees achieve a certain degree of initial concentration. As practices carried out in permanent contact with the ground, floors are usually covered with wood or materials rather ‘soft’ and warm to the touch.

Orientation and Geometry

Some of the projects are based spatially and geometrically in the traditional tenets of the different practices, as many claim that certain orientations and configurations may enhance the effectiveness of the exercises.

Centro Holístico Punto Zero - Dio Sustentable. Putaendo, Chile. Image by Jean Pierre Marchant y Fernando J. Romero
Centro Holístico Punto Zero - Dio Sustentable. Putaendo, Chile. Image by Jean Pierre Marchant y Fernando J. Romero

Source: archdaily.com

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