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Submitted by:
Edrienne John I. Roxas

Further information: cultural universal and prehistoric religion
Prehistoric religion involved repetitive, rhythmic chants which today are commonly
called mantras

Further information: Axial Age

Buddha sitting in Lotus positionwith hand mudras, 3rd century.

Some of the earliest written records of meditation (Dhyana), come from the Hindu traditions
of Vedantism around 1500 BCE. The Vedasdiscuss the meditative traditions of ancient
India. Around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China
and Buddhist India. Dhyana in early Buddhism also takes influence on Vedanta by ca. the 4th
century BCE.
The exact origins of Buddhist meditation are subject to debate among scholars. Early written
records of the multiple levels and states of meditation in Buddhism in India are found in
the sutras of the Pli Canon, which dates to 1st century BCE. The Pali Canon records the basic
fourfold formula of salvation via the observance of the rules of morality, contemplative
concentration, knowledge and liberation, thus placing meditation as a step along the path of
salvation. By the time Buddhism was spreading in China, the Vimalakirti Sutra which dates to
100CE included a number of passages on meditation and enlightened wisdom, clearly pointing
to Zen.
In the west, by 20 BCE Philo of Alexandria had written on some form of "spiritual exercises"
involving attention (prosoche) and concentration and by the 3rd century Plotinus had developed

meditative techniques, which however did not attract a following among Christian
meditators. Saint Augustine experimented with the methods of Plotinus and failed to achieve
The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism introduced meditation to other oriental
countries. Bodhidharma is traditionally considered the transmitter of the concept of Zen to China.
However, the first "original school" in East Asia was founded by his contemporary Zhiyi in the
6th century in central China. Zhiyi managed to systematically organize the various teachings that
had been imported from India in a way that their relationship with each other made
sense. Wonhyo and Uisang promoted Korean Buddhism in the 7th century.
There is evidence that Judaism has inherited meditative practices from its predecessor traditions
in Israelite antiquity. For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going
"lasuach" in the field - a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice
(Genesis 24:63). There are indications throughout the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) that Judaism
always contained a central meditative tradition.

Middle Ages
With the growth of Japanese Buddhism from the 8th century onwards, meditative practices were
brought to and further developed in Japan. The Japanese monk Dosho learned of Zen during his
visit to China in 653 and upon his return opened the first meditation hall in Japan,
at Nara. Meditative practices continued to arrive in Japan from China, and were subjected to
modification. When Dgen returned to Japan from China around 1227, he wrote the instructions
for Zazen, or sitting meditation, and conceived of a community of monks primarily focused on

A Sufi saint in Muraqaba meditation, c. 1630.

Early practices of Jewish meditation grew and changed by the Middle Ages. Jewish meditation
practices that developed included meditative approaches to prayer, mizvot and study. Some forms

of meditation involved Kabbalistic practices, and some involved approaches of Jewish

Sufi view or Islamic mysticism involves meditative practices. Remembrance of God in Islam,
which is known by the concept Dhikr is interpreted in different meditative techniques
in Sufism or Islamic mysticism. This became one of the essential elements of Sufism as it was
systematized in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is juxtaposed with fikr (thinking) which leads to
knowledge. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques,
and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words.
Eastern Christian meditation can involve the repetition of a phrase in a specific physical posture,
and can be traced back to the Byzantine period. Between the 10th and 14th
centuries, hesychasm was developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and continues to the
present. It involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.[18] It is possible that there were interactions
between Hesychasts and the Indians or the Sufis, but this can not be proved.
Western Christian meditation contrasts with most other approaches in that it does not involve the
repetition of any phrase or action and requires no specific posture. Western Christian
meditation progressed from the 6th century practice of Bible reading among Benedictine monks
called Lectio Divina, i.e. divine reading. Its four formal steps as a "ladder" were defined by the
monk Guigo II in the 12th century with the Latin terms lectio,meditatio, oratio,
and contemplatio (i.e. read, ponder, pray, contemplate). Western Christian meditation was further
developed by saints such as Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.

Modern history
By the 18th century, the study of Buddhism in the West was a topic for intellectuals. The
philosopher Schopenhauer discussed it, and Voltaire asked for toleration towards Buddhists. The
first English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published in 1927.
New schools of yoga developed in Hindu revivalism from the 1890s. Some of these schools were
introduced to the west, by Vivekananda and later gurus. Other schools were designed as
secularized variants of yoga traditions for use by non-Hindus, e.g. the system of Transcendental
Meditation popular in the 1960s, and numerous forms of Hatha Yoga derived from the Ashtanga
Vinyasa Yoga school, which became known simply as "Yoga" in western terminology.
Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction,
relaxation and self-improvement. Both spiritual and secular forms of meditation have been
subjects of scientific analyses. However, after 60 years of scientific study, the exact mechanism at
work in meditation remains unclear.

This article is about the induction of specific modes or states of consciousness. For other uses,
see Meditation (disambiguation).
A statue of the Buddha meditating, Borim Temple, Korea
Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of
consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content
without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to
promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop
compassion love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of
meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its
practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been
practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation
often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to
clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure,] depression,
and anxiety. It may be donesitting, or in an active wayfor instance, Buddhist monks involve
awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training.Prayer beads or other ritual
objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner
about some aspect of the training.
Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state
such as anger, hatred, etc.or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena,
such as compassion. The term "meditation" can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or
techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and
closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator.
Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved,
described as "being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself." In
brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of
activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.

The English meditation is derived from the Latin meditatio, from a verb meditari, meaning "to
think, contemplate, devise, ponder".In the Old Testament, hg (Hebrew: )means to sigh or
murmur, and also, to meditate. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, hg became
the Greekmelete. The Latin Bible then translated hg/melete into meditatio. The use of the
term meditatio as part of a formal, stepwise process of meditation goes back to the 12th-century
monk Guigo II.
The Tibetan word for meditation "Gom" means "to become familiar with" and has the strong
implication of training the mind to be familiar with states that are beneficial: concentration,
compassion, correct understanding, patience, humility, perseverance, etc.
Apart from its historical usage, the term meditation was introduced as a translation for Eastern
spiritual practices, referred to as dhyna in Buddhism and in Hinduism, which comes from
the Sanskrit root dhyai, meaning to contemplate or meditate. The term "meditation" in English
may also refer to practices from Islamic Sufism, or other traditions such as Jewish Kabbalah and
Christian Hesychasm. An edited book about "meditation" published in 2003, for example,
included chapter contributions by authors describing Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Jewish, Christian
and Islamic traditions. Scholars have noted that "the term 'meditation' as it has entered
contemporary usage" is parallel to the term "contemplation" in Christianity, but in many cases,
practices similar to modern forms of meditation were simply called 'prayer'. Christian, Judaic and
Islamic forms of meditation are typically devotional, scriptural or thematic, while Asian forms of
meditation are often more purely technical.


Main article: History of meditation

Man Meditating in a Garden Setting

The history of meditation is intimately bound up with the religious context within which it was
practiced. Some authors have even suggested the hypothesis that the emergence of the capacity
for focused attention, an element of many methods of meditation, may have contributed to the
final phases of human biological evolution. Some of the earliest references to meditation are
found in the Hindu Vedas. Wilson translates the most famous Vedic mantra 'Gayatri' thus : "We
meditate on that desirable light of the divine Savitri, who influences our pious rites" (Rgveda :
Mandala-3, Sukta-62, Rcha-10). Around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation
developed in Confucian, and Taoist China and Hindu, Jain and Buddhist India.
In the west, by 20 BCE Philo of Alexandria had written on some form of "spiritual exercises"
involving attention (prosoche) and concentration and by the 3rd century Plotinus had developed
meditative techniques.
The Pli Canon, which dates to 1st century BCE considers Indian Buddhist meditation as a step
towards salvation. By the time Buddhism was spreading in China, the Vimalakirti Sutra which
dates to 100 CE included a number of passages on meditation, clearly pointing to Zen. The Silk
Road transmission of Buddhism introduced meditation to other Asian countries, and in 653 the
first meditation hall was opened in Singapore.] Returning from China around 1227, Dgen wrote
the instructions for Zazen.
The Islamic practice of Dhikr had involved the repetition of the 99 Names of God since the 8th or
9th century. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques,
and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words. Interactions with
Indians or the Sufis may have influenced the Eastern Christian meditation approach
to hesychasm, but this can not be proved. Between the 10th and 14th centuries, hesychasm was
developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.

Buddhist monk Meditating in a Waterfall Setting

Western Christian meditation contrasts with most other approaches in that it does not involve the
repetition of any phrase or action and requires no specific posture. Western Christian
meditation progressed from the 6th century practice of Bible reading amongBenedictine monks
called Lectio Divina, i.e. divine reading. Its four formal steps as a "ladder" were defined by the
monk Guigo II in the 12th century with the Latin terms lectio, meditatio, oratio,
and contemplatio (i.e. read, ponder, pray, contemplate). WesternChristian meditation was further
developed by saints such as Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.
Secular forms of meditation were introduced in India in the 1950s as a Westernized form of
Hindu meditative techniques and arrived in the United States and Europe in the 1960s. Rather
than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and
self-improvement. Both spiritual and secular forms of meditation have been subjects of scientific
analyses. Research on meditation began in 1931, with scientific research increasing dramatically
during the 1970s and 1980s.Since the beginning of the '70s more than a thousand studies of
meditation in English-language have been reported. However, after 60 years of scientific study,
the exact mechanism at work in meditation remains unclear.

Designing a Meditation Room: Overall Room Theme

When designing a meditation room, it's best to start by forming a big picture view of what the
overall look and feel of your meditation room will be. One of the best ways to do this, even
before you start thinking about design elements like colour and furnishings, is to select an overall
theme for your meditation room.

Once you can describe the theme of your meditation room, you will probably find it easier to
make decisions about all the other design elements to follow. You will find yourself designing a
room that is cohesive in terms of its overall look and feel, rather than a room that feels
disconnected or thrown together.
Here are just a few examples of themes for your meditation room. Please keep in mind that these
are just ideas to stimulate your own thoughts about how you might like your meditation room to
look and feel.
The Resort
Resort style meditation rooms are inspired by the idea of an exotic vacation. Words that spring to
mind are Balinese retreat or Day Spa. Think of a relaxing place where you have been on
holiday and try to recreate the look and feel of that place.
Minimalistic rooms usually feature light, neutral colour tones and have a very stripped back look
and feel about them. Only the bare essentials are catered for in a minimalistic room. This type of
meditation room is all about simplicity, serenity and the total avoidance of visual clutter.
The Rainbow
Lots and lots of vibrant colours! For some people this kind of theme can be overwhelming, but
for others it is totally invigorating. You can break all the rules with a rainbow theme...paint
different walls different colours, add brightly coloured furnishings, display colourful pictures.
The trick is not to stop halfway with a rainbow theme. Go all-out and saturate your meditation
room with colour.
The Cocoon
Cocoon-like meditation rooms are designed to be warm, inviting, enveloping and reclusive. The
cocoon effect is best suited to smaller rooms as it is harder to accomplish in a large space. Darker
colour tones combined with plenty of natural candle light work very well to create a space that
cocoons you in warmth and peace.
The Illuminator
Quite the opposite to The Cocoon, the Illuminator feels open, spacious and is full of natural light.
Bright colour tones combined with plenty of comfortable furnishings and natural cloth combine
to create a very pure, luminous space.
The Temple
The Temple theme is inspired by temples, shrines and places of sacred worship. In most cases this
is a room that includes plenty of natural elements, like stone, wood carvings, incense and candles.
Aztec, Asian or African culture may influence the design.
Create Your Own Personal Theme
What inspires you? What places make you feel at peace? When you think of meditation,
spirituality or relaxation, what places or images come to mind? Let your imagination run free and
develop your own personal theme. If you are designing a meditation room for yourself, then your

room theme does not have to meet anyones criteria but your own. Make it special and uniquely

Designing a Meditation Room: Colour Schemes

Now that you have a theme in mind for your meditation room, its time to begin selecting a colour
scheme. When designing a meditation room, there really are no specific rules when it comes to
colours, and in many cases your own personal taste will guide you to the colour tones that are
right for you, however there are a few important factors to consider.
First of all, keep in mind that colour can have a very direct effect on the way you feel. You are
probably already aware of this on an intuitive level, but it might surprise you to know that
scientific tests have actually proven that after being exposed to specific colours, we experience
mental, emotional and even physical changes. Your blood pressure, body temperature and
appetite can all be affected by colour, so choose colours that have a positive effect on your overall
sense of wellbeing.
Just ask yourself, How do I want to feel in this room? and then visualize colours that represent
those feelings for you. You might like to start by writing down a list of feelings that describe how
you want to feel when you walk into your meditation room. You might use words like serene,
balanced, relaxed or invigorated, to name a few. Now picture yourself surrounded by the
colour(s) you have in mind and observe your response. Does the colour scheme in your mind
bring about the right feelings for you? Does it enhance the essence of who you are? Does it fit in
with the room theme you have in mind?
Colours and Space Perception
The colours you choose will have an effect on your perception of space in the room. For example,
darker colours may feel very cosy, but they can make a room feel smaller. Lighter colour on the
other hand will help to open a room up, but may not have the warmth you are after.
Colour Selection
Most interior decorators will advise you to avoid the overuse of bold colours, however if a certain
colour resonates positively with you, then do not hesitate to defy convention and use as much of
it as you like. Not all traditional decorating advice applies when you are designing a meditation
room. Keep your desired room theme in mind and go with your instincts.
If in doubt about colours for your meditation room, then order a sample of the paint you have in
mind and try it out on a wall or two.
More tips on colour and paint:
Have you ever heard of the 60:30:10 design rule? This design rule is a suggested guide to the
proportions of colour that you should use in a room: 60% dominant colour, 30% intermediate
colour, 10% accent colour. Typically, the dominant colour covers most of the walls, the

intermediate colour might be used on one feature wall, and the accent colour might be used just
around window frames or on doors. Monochromatic rooms can be a little bland, but rooms with
too many colours can be visually distracting. The 60:30:10 design rule is just a handy hint for
creating a colour scheme that is nicely balanced.
If you are finding colour selection to be difficult, head down to your local paint shop. Most offer
free colour charts, free colour scheme suggestions and cheap, if not free sample paints. Many
paint manufacturers also offer very helpful online guides which may include free colour selection
software and colour scheme advice.
Paint and Air Quality
If you are concerned about the purity of the air in your meditation room, please consider using
low-emission paints so as to minimize the presence of chemical fumes. In a process known as
off-gassing, paints release small quantities of chemicals into the atmosphere for months or even
years after they have finished drying. Low emission paints reduce this effect dramatically.
If you intend to use any high-gloss paints in your meditation room, make sure you select a waterbased variety. Oil-based high gloss paints look great, but they take days to dry properly and they
can smell for weeks afterwards.

Designing a Meditation Room: Lighting

I have addressed the subject of lighting immediately after the subject of colour because colour
and light interplay with one another in a variety of ways, dramatically affecting the way we
perceive the space around us. For example, a room that has been painted in warm colours may
still seem cold if the wrong type of lighting is used. Likewise, a room may seem smaller or larger
depending on the way colour and light are combined. A lack of lighting will make colours seem
darker than they really are, and too much lighting may wash out the colours in your room.
Light Control
If you are designing a meditation room, it is important that you have control over light levels. So
if your meditation room has windows, they will probably need blinds or curtains of some sort
(more on window furnishings a little later on). Overhead lights are best if they feature a dimming
function, which will allow you to have total control over the light levels in your room. I also
recommend that you do not meditate in total darkness. Personally, when I meditate I dont like a
completely dark room, but I dont like it to be too bright either, so I will dim down the overhead
lights and light a candle or two. Speaking of candles, this brings me to another point about light...
Light quality
Light is often divided into two main categories cool and warm (sometimes referred to as blue
or yellow in tint). In almost all cases warm lighting is the best choice for a meditation room. In
case you hadnt guessed already, candles provide a very warm light indeed, and provide more
natural ambience than almost any other light form you can imagine.

If you have the choice, avoid fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent light is the coldest, bluest and most
sterile type of light. Worse still, large fluorescent lighting fixtures are also famous for
flicker...the light levels they produce may seem to oscillate ever so slightly, but very rapidly.
For some people this can cause irritation and even headaches.
I am aware that in some countries, traditional light globes have been prohibited in an effort to
reduce energy consumption, leaving fluorescent globes as the only available alternative.
Fortunately, most fluorescent globe manufacturers realize how unpopular the cold light of
fluorescence can be, and many of them now offer specially designed warm fluorescent globes.
Both traditional filament light globes and halogen light globes produce a very warm type of light.
Please note that blue-tinted halogen globes are available for people who prefer a colder light.
Unless this is your preference you should avoid this type of halogen globe...something to keep in
mind the next time you are shopping for replacements!
Feature Lighting and Lamps
The addition of lamps is an excellent way to add more controlled lighting options to a meditation
room. Feature lighting like this can be used to add emphasis to one part of your room, and will
provide plenty of atmosphere. Salt crystal lamps are a popular choice for meditation rooms these
days, but are hardly your only option...why not try using candles in coloured glass holders to cast
a vibrant glow about your room?
When designing a meditation room, keep the above recommendations in mind and you will be
well on your way to creating a room that has great atmosphere and that can be adjusted to suit
your needs at any time of day or night.

Space Adjacency Diagram

Space Adjacency Diagram [ showing ideal spatial progression]

Landscape Meditation

Volume 45, Issue 1 :: by Thomas Hanrahan

Meditation Hall east elevation, with the three residence halls in the distance.
The Won Dharma Center is a 30,000-square-foot meditation and spiritual retreat in Claverack,
New York for a Korean Buddhist sect that emphasizes balance in daily life with a focus on nature.
The retreat site is a 500-acre property on a hill with views west to the Hudson River Valley and
the Catskill Mountains. The buildings for the retreat including permanent and guest residences,
an administration building, and a meditation hall are sited as far as possible from the rural
highway Route 23 to the south. The buildings are oriented west toward views of the Catskill
Mountains, and south to maximize natural light.

Meditation Hall and Administration building, with their connective porches, which frame views.
The mission of the center is to create a place where the complexities and struggles of daily life
are secondary to a meditative experience, and untouched nature is seen as an idealized state where
human activity recedes in importance. Architecture is understood as a threshold to this vision of
unspoiled natural beauty, while the preservation of the natural environment itself is equally
important, assuming an ethical significance both in terms of design and the day-to-day practices
at the Center. Virtually every aspect of the project was designed by us with these two ideas in
mind: architecture as a threshold to nature and the preservation and appreciation of the
surrounding natural landscapes as an expression of the Won Centers values. The clients
requested that as many natural materials as possible be used in harmony with the rural character
of the region, and as a reflection of the centers mission and its emphasis on ecological design.

View of the site, with guest residence in distance, and permanent residence in foreground.
The symbol of the Buddhist organization is an open circle, suggesting in conceptual terms a void
without absence and infinite return, and the buildings, in turn, are organized around the formal
concepts of the open frame and spiral. The open frame is associated with meditation and the
Meditation Hall, the focus of the retreat experience. The spiral form is used in the design of the
buildings for daily activities, but also suggests the practice of walking meditation. The spiral
buildings have public corridors that return upon themselves and form a courtyard with a view to
the Catskills that encourage reflection. Walking meditation outside the buildings include paths
that link the retreat buildings into the sites 350-acre nature preserve.

Guest residence halls, fitted with photovoltaic arrays.

The five buildings of the center are organized on the site around a series of outdoor spaces of
various sizes and experiences. The spaces between the buildings are large landscapes while
intimate, meditative courtyards comprise the center of the four spiral buildings. The buildings are
placed upon the site relative to each other in an informal, clustered arrangement on the westfacing hillside in the manner of tree and rock clusters commonly found in the Hudson River
region. The buildings also have outdoor spaces in the form of screened porches that invoke this
image of tree clusters while also providing wood-screened outdoor porches for meeting and quiet
reflection. The interior spaces are designed explicitly as thresholds to both these porches and the
landscapes beyond with a design language based upon the experience of natural light, wooden
surfaces on floors, and walls and framed views to the west.

Site Plan

Administration and Meditation Hall plan

A unified vision of landscape and architecture begins with the sequence through the site. The first
point of access takes visitors through a stone entrance gate. Retreat visitors are encouraged to
leave their cars at the parking lot, located approximately 500 feet south of the meditation hall, and
walk to the center along a winding path under the tree line. The first view of the retreat compound
from the path is the grass lawn in front of the administration building and adjoining Meditation
Hall. Upon arrival, the view of the Meditation Hall acts as a public gate to the retreat experience.
The 3,000-square-foot Meditation Hall is a precise, rectangular void and a lightweight frame to
the natural surroundings. Its wood structure is exposed on three sides to form entrance and
viewing porches, while the interior offers views of the mountains from the meditation space. The
administration building is linked to the Meditation Hall by a series of porches designed to
accommodate formal walking from administration to meditation. These two buildings and their
porches frame the outdoor lawn with views of the Catskills.
The other buildings include the residential buildings for guests and permanent residents. The
designs of the residential buildings and the administration building refer to centuries-old grassroofed Korean farm-houses. The roof shapes of each of these buildings transform in section
around a spiral organization, from a simple slope in section to a complex triangulated geometry at
the entrance porches. The internal organization of each courtyard building supports silent walking
meditation around the inner courtyards and adjacent outdoor porches and spaces. The courtyards
provide passive cooling, allowing cross ventilation. Like the Meditation Hall, all of the courtyard
buildings are deeply shaded to the west and south to allow natural day-lighting without excessive
heat gain. The permanent residence building is exclusively for retired ministers, and provides
lodging for 24 members of the organization. The two guest residences provide lodging for up to
80 retreat visitors. Rooms are simply and elegantly furnished with specially designed furniture
made from plywood and oak complementing the architectural design. All interior lights are lowvoltage fluorescent or LED, while exterior lights are solar-powered fluorescent low lighting, with
zero light pollution.

Entry vestibule of Meditation Hall.

Locally harvested eastern cedar is used for

the structural system of glue-lam beams and
solid posts and framing members. The
buildings are clad in cedar boards, and the
porch decks are made from cedar planks.
The interior floors are oak, and the wood
walls are a combination of oak and pine.
The entire complex is designed as a net
zero-carbon footprint project. The architects
designed a heating and cooling system that
includes geo-thermal wells, a photovoltaic
array, solar thermal roof panels, and a
central bio-mass boiler. The Won Buddhists
have committed to harvesting only fallen
trees from their nature reserve as fuel for the
boiler, resulting in a zero-carbon footprint

for the heat system. The buildings employ

state-of-the-art construction systems,
including spray-foam insulation, low-e glass

insulated windows, and a radiant in-floor

heating system to minimize energy costs for
year-round occupancy.

Meditation hall interior, with windows that frame views of the distance.
Collaborators: Interior design: Myonggi Sul Design; Lighting design: Light and Space; MEP
environmental engineering: CS Arch; structural engineering: Wayman C. Wing Consulting
Engineer; Site engineering: Patrick Prendergast, PE; General contracting: Heitmann Builders

Community health center

A healthcare center, health center, or community health center is one of a network
of clinics staffed by a group of general practitioners and nurses providing healthcare services to
people in a certain area. Typical services covered are family practice and dental care,[clarification
needed] but some clinics have expanded greatly and can include internal medicine, pediatric,
womens care, family planning, pharmacy, optometry, lab, and more. In countries with universal
healthcare, most people use the healthcare centers. In countries without universal healthcare, the
clients include the uninsured, underinsured, low-income or those living in areas where little
access to primary health care is available.[citation needed]


Buddhist Meditation Centre Metta Vihara

by Bureau SLA
Dozens of square windows puncture the corrugated steel shell of this barn-like Buddhist
meditation centre in a rural part of the Netherlands by Dutch architects Bureau SLA (+

The Buddhist organisation Metta Vihara asked the architects to create as much space as possible
within the modest budget.

"What we wanted was an aesthetic that was beautiful but not too comfortable," architect Peter van
Assche told Dezeen. "The reason people go to the meditation centre is not to feel cosy they
want to go deeper, to sense something that is not too obvious. The feeling of the building should
express this."

The resulting building provides beds for 26 people in 13 bedrooms as well as a meditation hall,
library and dining hall.

A mansard roof was chosen as a cost-effective way of providing extra living space while also
borrowing from the vernacular architecture of Zeeland, which is near the Belgian border.

Three colours of corrugated steel have been used for the facades and roof, with red cedar beams
marking the top and bottom edges of each steel sheet.

The square Velux windows have been fitted inside white wooden frames to disguise ugly joints
with the steel.

The end walls are clad in wood salvaged from scaffolding left over by the builders.

At one end of the building is a large meditation room with glazed walls and corrugated steel
shutters, which open out onto a view of the rural landscape.

Inside, bare limestone has been used for the load-bearing walls while the other walls are made
from environmentally certified MDF.

Polished concrete has been used on all the floors with the exception of the meditation hall, which
is covered with black bamboo.

The architects added: "The building has been warmly received by local residents, as evident in a
conversation we heard between two passing cyclists: 'This new cowshed looks really good, but
why does it have so many windows?'"

We've featured two other Buddhist buildings on Dezeen a house for a priest along the Shikoku
pilgrimage route in Japan and a priest's quarters in the Japanese Alps.

Site plan click above for larger image

We previously published Bureau SLA's National Glass Museum Holland in Leerdam, which saw
two houses connected by four overlapping bridges wrapped in aluminium mesh.

Ground floor plan click above for larger image

First floor plan click above for larger image

Photographs are by Jeroen Musch.
Here's some further information from the architects:

The Buddhist Meditation Centre Metta Vihara is located in Hengstdijk a small village near the
Belgian border in a remote area of the Netherlands. The inhabitants of Metta Vihara (defined as
'community of loving kindness' in the Pali language) are members of the Triratna Community, a
Buddhist movement not aligned to one traditional school, but one that draws on the whole stream
of Buddhist inspiration.

Long section click above for larger image

The new accommodation provides 26 beds in 13 one- and two-person bedrooms, a meditation
hall, library and dining hall. Form and materials used in the centre relate to the rural vernacular
building, but used in a new and fresh way.

As the centre is financed mainly by gifts from community members and friends, one of the design
briefs was to maximise the the space while minimising the cost. Our overall design concept was
to design a building that, while beautiful, wasnt overly comforting. This is in line with the
philosophy that, while on retreat, one should feel relaxed but not necessarily 'at home'. As a
result, Metta Vihara has strong aesthetics that feature robust and raw materials.

Long section click above for larger image

The overall form of the meditation centre is an interpretation of the so-called Mansard roof, also
known as the French roof. Used throughout the area (mainly because of its low cost), the
Mansard roof is found widely on houses and barns. The facade of the centre along with the
cladding of the roof is made of corrugated steel, a material popular for its low cost, strength,
and long life. Typically, the drawback of using corrugated steel is in the ungraceful way it joins
with other materials, specifically at the corners and in the overlays. At Metta Vihara, however, it
has been used 'as is': no joints and no connections. Western red cedar beams and white wood
window frames mark the transitions from one steel sheet to the next, with the horizontal lines of
the beams giving the building depth and profile. Three different colors of steel are used, and in
three different wavelengths. Indeed at first sight, it is not at all clear what the scale of the building
is: does it have five floors? Three? Two?

Cross section A
The same approach of using raw materials in this new way is also used in the design of the
windows. The windows in the steel skin in facade and roof are standard Velux windows,
which are technically superb and relatively inexpensive. As with the corrugated steel, however,
there is often an aesthetic compromise in the joints with other materials. In the case of Metta
Vihara, though, they are framed with white painted wood, giving them a distinctive look.

Cross section B
As a contrast to the more industrial looks of the steel, the short sides of the building and the
terrace walls are cladded with wood, a robust but also warm material. For this, wood already
available on site was used: the leftovers of the scaffolding wood used by the builders. The
structure's interior consists of unfinished building materials, albeit used in a considerate even
delicate way.
Structural walls are bare unplastered lime stone. Floors are raw concrete, polished and uncovered,
with the exception of the meditation hall, which features black bamboo flooring. Non-loadbearing
walls are made of ecologically manufactured MDF sheets and are coated with transparent
colours, in order that the structure of the material remains visible.

Cross section C
In the meditation hall, doors open to the outside, allowing open air meditation. When closed,
these doors - made of perforated corrugated steel serve to filter the sunlight. This gives the
space an intimate atmosphere, providing optimal conditions for meditation. The building has been
warmly received by local residents, as evident in a conversation we heard between two passing
cyclists: "This new cowshed looks really good, but why does it have so many windows?" The
Metta Vihara building is the first newly built meditation centre in the Netherlands.

Cross section D
Project: Buddhist Meditation Centre Metta Vihara
Start design: 2009
Start building: 9/2011
Opening: 6/2012
Gross Area: 465 m2
Building costs: ca. 650,000 ex. VAT

Design: bureau SLA

Client: Metta Vihara
Address: Hengstdijkse Kerkstraat 36, Hengstdijk, The Netherlands
Program: 13 bedrooms, meditation hall, library and dining hall
Contractor: Van Kerckhoven Bouw, Kloosterzande
Structural Engineer: Sineth Engineering, Schiphol
Sustainability: Sunraytec, Woerden
Project team: Peter van Assche, Hiske van der Meer, Gonalo Moreira, Charlotte Vermaning,
Justyna Osiecka

An urban context often requires
a unique solution for a
religious space. This often
consists of a way to separate
the internal spaces from the
street by a series of buffer
spaces. For example, the cour
tyards in the Buddhist
meditation center and the
Hindu temple.

Depending on the context, an approach can be direct, ceremonial, and
axial or winding and more involved. Much of this depends on the density of
the area around, the amount of traffic passing, and the lines of site to the
space. For example, in the Buddhist meditation centre the entry is placed
around a corner off of the main street

Spatial Progression
The spatial progression relies
heavily on the purpose and
focus of the building. For
example, in the Hindu temple
the spaces move from tight and
buried, climbing to light and
open, symbolizing the souls
journey to enlightenment.

The organization of spaces also
depends on the purpose of the
space. Cathedrals, for example,
are organized axially in line with
the main altar of the supreme
deity. Hindu spaces of worship
tend to be more radial.

The volume of spaces are most often used to reinforce the spatial
progression. For example, in the Catholic church on Queensway the spaces
remain small and narrow until they reach the sanctuary were the volume
increases dramatically.

Light is usually used in
connection with spatial
volume to enhance the
progression through the
spaces. Impor tant spaces
and destinations tend
to be lighter while passages tend to be dimmer. This helps to emphasize a sense
of arrival and move people through the transitional spaces.

Materials often rely on the
use of the space, such as
the need for marble in the
Hindu mandir. They can
also be used for
psychological effect. For
example, the use of wood
in the Hindu and Buddhist
spaces to create a feeling
of warmth, or the bright
white walls in the
Queensway church to
enhance the comfor table,
centralized feel of the
geometry and a sense of the
pure and sacred.

Boundaries are essential to the
spatial progression. They make
it difficult or easy to move
between spaces and enhance the
feeling of impor tance of a
space. For example, the only
door left closed in the
Queensway church is the door
to the sanctuary, setting is apar
t as impor tant.

Decoration / Ornamentation
Decoration can be used for
a multitude of purposes. In
the Buddhist space, wall
murals where used to
enhance the psychological
effect of the preparatory
spaces with landscapes
and floral patterns creating
a calming effect. While
stained glass windows in a
Christian church can be
used to teach and to tell

Philosophy / Focus
The philosophy and focus of the space is the one factor that
influences all of the others.
It informs all design
decisions and is the basis
for the spatial experience
that is the main tool for
creating the desired
psychological effect. It

determines what the desired

effect should be.

Designing an Urban Meditation Centre by Joliette M. Gadeken: University of
Nebraska - Lincoln,