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James Gorst Architects’ spiritualist temple approved in Hampshire

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James Gorst Architects’ competition-winning designs for a new temple in Hampshire have been granted planning approval

The 555m² complex for The White Eagle Lodge, a spiritual organisation founded in 1936, is located on a site at New Lands near Liss.

The practice’s designs will replace an existing 1970s temple, which is due for demolition on account of irreparable water damage.

The new temple comprises a series of orthogonal pavilions arranged around a courtyard and connected by cloisters. It will offer healing, meditation and retreats inspired by a ‘spirit teacher’, White Eagle.

Following a two-stage design competition in 2017, the practice was selected from a shortlist that also included Walters & Cohen, Gort Scott and Adam Richards Architects.

According to the architect, the client wanted a design that would ‘embody the ethos of simplicity and beauty, using architecture as a sacred expression’.

The temple’s architecture ‘draws on sacred geometries and ancient ley lines, creating a natural stone pendentive dome crowned with a timber lantern’, according to the architect’s website.

Work is due to start on site in 2020.

Crop jga white eagle lodge model axo

Crop jga white eagle lodge model axo

Architects’ view

The proposed plan is a composition of orthogonal pavilions connected by a cloistered walkway, facing onto an open central courtyard. The pavilions are organised to create carefully landscaped gardens between them, whilst changes in their heights articulate the varied programmes within. 

The internal arrangement follows an identifiable hierarchy from public to private, from the profane to the sacred. Spaces increase in privacy from the visitor entrance in the east through to the chapels and main temple in the west. Golden ratio and Platonic geometries inform the temple proportions, whilst the architecture draws on the unique geomantic qualities of the site – an existing east-west ley line and lines of energy across the historic landscape. 

The plan of the temple uses the particular symbolic relationship of the square and the circle, an architectural expression of mankind’s connection with the Earth and heavens. 

A 12m-diameter circle determines the inner temple, focusing the congregation on a central altar. This sacred space is enclosed within a solid stone pendentive dome with arched openings to the cardinal points. This structural element forms a three-dimensional expression of energy lines, which cross the site and supports a circular timber and glass lantern above. 

The new temple complex benefits from a simple palette of natural materials, selected both for their gravitas (brick) and their symbolic expression (timber) as well as connecting to the built history of Hampshire. The brickwork, with its chalky lime mortar, references the county’s underlying chalk geology. Just as the temple base seeks to emulate characteristics of the ground, the timber frame construction reflects the extensive woodland of the South Downs National Park. Timber fins are used throughout the proposal, suggesting a permeability of publicly accessed space. 

Crop stale eriksen jga stone arches

Crop stale eriksen jga stone arches

Source: Ståle Eriksen

Project data

Project name The White Eagle Lodge
Location Hampshire
Client The White Eagle Lodge
Architect James Gorst Architects
Landscape Designer McWilliam Studio
Structural Engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E Consultant Skelly & Couch
Quantity Surveyor Jackson Coles
Project Manager Jackson Coles
CDM Advisor Jackson Coles
GIA 555m²
Start on site Spring 2020

Web cropjga white eagle lodge drawing axonometric

Web cropjga white eagle lodge drawing axonometric

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