Client: Private Developer / Status: Idea / Location: Latvia
Practise energising yoga and meditation in the ancient woodlands of rural Latvia, enjoying restorative candle-lit dinners in the timber-beamed stone barn before retiring to the calm of your riverside sleeping chambers.
The main emphasis of the Centre is the development of a deeper sense of self, finding balance and harmony within your body and mind, and connecting with the nature around you. Every aspect of your well-being has been considered in the design of the site, which provides a beautiful, clear sanctuary away from the toxicity of modern city life. By interweaving heritage, nature and architecture, we have created a haven where indoor and outdoor, nature and architecture are harmoniously integrated to revitalise, rehabilitate and energise you on a spiritual, mental and physical level.
The Stone Barn Meditation Centre is only 2 hours drive from Riga - yet it feels a million miles away. A total escape. A perfect place for a Yoga Retreat weekend. Set on a private farm-holding, in the idyllic Latvian countryside, the site is surrounded by acres of ancient forest and farmland with an abundance of local wildlife. You really get to see the changes in the seasons with the arrival of new lambs in spring, bluebells in May and nightingales singing in early June. The Stone Barn Meditation Centre is run as a small farm with an established vegetable garden which provides many of the ingredients for our home cooked tasty meals.
The heart of the site and main social space is the carefully restored, 19th century stone barn, which operated as a sawmill until the 1990’s. With beautiful beams and a log burning stove, the open plan, dining area is the ideal place to relax, connect and restore.
Sleeping accommodation is spread along the river bank, following the topography of the site and offers single, double or triple occupancy rooms in individualised sleeping cells.
These sleeping cells provide a private retreat space for guests, with integrated bay-windows presenting the ideal surroundings for personal meditation and reflection.
In order to encourage a sense of community and connection while maximizing the usable floor area of the site, all the circulation between the sleeping cells is in the open air, under the one large roof. Each unit has its own entrance from the timber collonaded cloister, creating a layered threshold with the private retreat space of the sleeping cells.
The site has the capability to live off-grid using a hedonistic combination of renewable energy sources, from solar to hydro, geothermal to biomass. Along with this, we’ve decided to stick with traditional methods of managing our meadows and pastures. This means cutting the hay later in the year to allow the wildflowers to set seed and taking our time harvesting so the bumblebees and other pollinators don’t find their food sources have disappeared overnight.
We’ve committed to keeping our skies dark, reducing artificial light around the farm so our nocturnal species don’t find their feeding and breeding patterns interrupted. This affects all creatures – like the female glow worm, which uses the contrast of her glowing light against the dark sky to attract a mate.
The site, set in rural Latvia, has been carefully preserved, with all existing trees retained and the old saw mill gracefully restored.
Local timber is used to create an over-arching structure, spreading out rhythmically across the site and creating the tranquil effect of a cloister. The form, however, is less closed-off than the traditional cloister. Instead, it opens out to the landscape and welcomes the natural surroundings in.
A large roof structure bridges across the various elements of the site, sheltering the immediate outdoor spaces from the elements while also articulating the views towards the landscape. The roof structure mediates the threshold between inside and outside and is the unifying element between the natural and the built form.