The Vajrasana Buddhist Retreat Centre in Suffolk has been named best community project at the AJ Architecture Awards
This extension and refurbishment of a Suffolk rural retreat, arranged around a series of courtyards and spaces including a large new prayer hall, was praised for being an ensemble of ‘thoughtful, quiet buildings’ perfectly suited to their function and site.
Attached to a converted farmhouse, the new buildings are organised both functionally and as a spiritual journey through the site. Beginning with community facilities, including a dining hall and bedrooms leading off the first courtyard, the focus shifts to Dharma or teaching in two more formal courtyard spaces, and then to meditation and contemplation of the Buddha in the prayer hall, in a ‘beautifully handled’ sequence of spaces. There was no model for a purpose-built retreat in the UK, and the client praised the architect for its understanding of the community’s requirements.
The judges were impressed by the excellent build quality, to Passivhaus standards, complemented by the robust but rich material simplicity. This ranged from more contextual choices such as the charred timber, recalling the colour of Suffolk barns, to the counterintuitive: dark purple-red industrial brick, which creates a rich sheen to the interior of the prayer hall.
What the judges found particularly noteworthy was how the architecture balanced a contained sense of place while providing views and release out to the surrounding countryside – a perfect blend of centredness and engagement with the world around.
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Source: Will Scott
Finalist: Belarusian Memorial Chapel by Spheron Architects
Finalist: Bushey Cemetery by Waugh Thistleton Architects
Finalist: Live Works by Flanagan Lawrence
Live Works by Flanagan Lawrence
Finalist: St Peter’s Stonegrove by Sprunt Architects
St Peter’s Stonegrove by Sprunt Architects
Source: Luke Hayes
Finalist: The Point by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt
The Point by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt
Source: Hufton + Crow
Finalist: Warwick Hall Community Centre by Acanthus Clews Architects
Community & Faith Project of the Year sponsored by