This academy is not only perceived as a mere retreat centre to learn, meditate and practice yoga but also as a shelter to embrace a certain way of life with the fundamental principle of self-discovery and awareness. The design is a harmonious composition of geometric form and fluid landscape – ’A landscape seeking eternally to engulf the form and the users within.’

Name of the Project : Communal Poetry (Master Peace – A Meditation & Yoga Retreat Center)
Name of the Design Firm : theRed design workshop
Names of the Principals : Ashish Dalal
Typology : Cultural Retreat
Location : Alappuzha, Kerala
Built up Area : 15,355 sq.mts.
Site Area : 42,869 sq.mts.
Design Team : Ashish Dalal
Unbuilt Project Type : International Design Competition
Organiser : Archmello
Rank : Third Prize

Communal Poetry By Ashish Dalal - Sheet1
©Ashish Dalal

Play on the horizon of natural ground is the foundational essence of this design. As one enters, the eye is gradually risen through the articulated ground directing to a large central pyramidal form – The Stupa. Closing the distance to the Stupa which is the main 100 seater meditation hall, the pathway steps down forming a sunken plaza, creating an illusion of Stupa in its scalar magnificence humbly afloat on shallow waters. Sheer scale and materiality of built forms along with the interiors, give rise to a sense of capitulation and devotion similar to the experience within Dravidian temple architecture in India.

Communal Poetry By Ashish Dalal - Sheet5
©Ashish Dalal

Balanced by demure structures of yoga and meditation halls on all sides, the communal activities are concentrated at the centre thus leaving the southern part of the site dedicated to individual Search – Meditate – Reflect which are the primary needs of the academy. The height and form of Meditation spaces aid ventilation and reduces the humidity internally. The extension of the built form into the landscape at different levels bridges the built and open transition. The slender curved roofs inspired by vernacular funnel structures are designed to 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 which can also cater to larger groups on occasions and is thus participatory for the public.

Communal Poetry By Ashish Dalal - Sheet6
©Ashish Dalal

The slit windows in the smaller meditation cubes on the southern edge allows a beam of light at different time of the day thus keeping the space calm for private meditation. The reflected beam of light from the 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 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 water structures such as stepped wells and percolation tanks.

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