Entropy & Renewal: The Re-Cladding of Meditation Hut II “Le Cadeau”
Over the fifteen years of its existence, the fragile shingles covering Le Cadeau have weathered disproportionally according to their location on the form. The gable ends and entrance door have matured to a rich medium grey color. The roof and sides, the surfaces most exposed to rain and snow, developed a moss coating that was both beautiful and destructive. The moss-weakened shingles began to deteriorate, jeopardizing the integrity of the structure. Replacement was necessary to extend the life of the hut.
The re-cladding was limited to the deteriorated surfaces. As a result, the previous monolithic surface treatment of Le Cadeau has become a study of contrasts. The deteriorated surfaces are regenerated, while the stable surfaces remain.
An academic couple, a renown materials scientist and respected artist, desired a space for entertainment and contemplation in their under-utilized but elegant custom-designed garden. We determined during the initial meeting that the design goal was “…to give them a reason to use the garden.”
After several iterations, we developed the new space as an extension of the existing deck, but with a framed, layered view of the landscape that was previously not emphasized. The pavilion can serve both as a stand alone insect-protected space for a small group, and a covered expansion for larger deck gatherings.
The repetition of patterns is a theme throughout the space. The corrugated white metal exterior is conceived as a textural complement to the pale horizontal face brick of the adjacent ranch house. The decking planks become the floor of the pavilion. Wall and ceiling panels align with lights and fixtures. Temporal patterns result from rainwater channelled across the correlated roof surface, as well as scalloped shadows cast onto the deck and wall surfaces.
The “light chimney” to the North reflects the house chimney to the South, and draws south light into the pavilion serving area. All openings are carefully arranged to frame the existing plant compositions.
Since completion, the clients have entertained extensively in the pavilion. It has also become a favorite space for morning coffee, writing, and contemplation, thus fulfilling the initial goal of the project.
Commissioned Project: 2019
Project Completed: 2020
MWWF is a small scale mockup of a larger idea for a contemplative museum installation. The original concept was to use concealed Drinking Birds to generate surface disruptions in a transparent vessel of backlit water.
In application, we determined that the birds had physical and maintenance limitations for a long-term installation. The birds were replaced with more reliable aquarium pumps. These were inserted into transparent plastic storage bins, mounted above LED work light mounted to adjustable tripods.
The bounding box for the installation was created from recycled hollow core doors. Through empirical effort, we determined the optimum location for pumps and lights, resulting in a simple but effective meditative water projection, To complete the experience, the Up 1 chair (Gaetano Pesce, 1969) provided the appropriate semi-supine experience for a single person.
Research Project: 2016-17
Prototype Completed: 2017
Research Associate: Robert Schlorff
The pavilion began a prototype for the EcoMonk Portable Dwelling (see "Move"section). When those initial experiments concluded, the framework was re-purposed as a seasonal writing and contemplation space.
To create a fully usable outdoor space, the original frame was wrapped in dark-toned insect screen. An internal layer of 1 x 2 wood sticks wraps the floor, seat and back surfaces. This layer screens the adjacent garage, prioritizes the view into the garden, and creates playful afternoon light shadows within the space. The angled roof contains solar cells that can power LEDs or a laptop computer.
Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Central Illinois
The pavilion is designed as a social space on an open site adjacent to the Temple, which opened in 2013. The form is derived from the stepped pyramid profiles of traditional East Indian Temple designs. Screened views and light shadows substitute for the encrusted sculptures in the originals.
Research Project: 2015
"Patrick" Spa Pavilion
Western United States
The pavilion is located in a pastoral landscape. The floor of the structure is raised above the ground to grow aromatic herbs underneath and around it. The experience begins with a brief journey up the approach ramp, and into the entrance space. After disrobing, the visitor can experience a series of bething and washing experiences while enjoying views of the surrounding countryside. The tiles floor is thermally heated for comfortable contact with bare feet. Fresh air can be circulated though perimeter floor vents and expelled through the central chimney, bringing the aroma of fresh herbs and the sounds of birds into the space. The constantly changing play of sunlight on tiles and bleached hardwood panelling records the passage of time. This natural light is supplemented with voice-activated ambient lighting embedded directly into the shapes of the pavilion.
Design Competition Project: 2015
Design Associates: Workus Studio
Fallahpour Tea Hut
Hague, New York
The tea hut was designed for a private property alongside Lake George in the Adirondacks. The form was derived from a series of site constraints that clarified and focused the concept: The structure rests on a tiny 8' x 8' concrete block foundation that was required by zoning standards. The locally-milled timber structure above the foundation cantilevers from this foundation to create a series of seat niches. Openings in these niches are arranged to frame views of Lake George.
Commissioned Project: 2011
Meditation Hut III “Victor”
Meditation and water are wedded forever. (Herman Melville)
The owners of a forested property wanted a quiet space to observe the surrounding nature. A naturalized understory leads to a visually kinetic approach ramp that contrasts to the subtle interior. Entry to the hut is through an obscured door detailed like the cedar walls. Inside an oversized window opposite the entrance immediately pulls the view back outside to a composed view of mature trees. Adjacent to this is a miniature tea cabinet. A raised platform in the main space supports three tatami mats.
The location along the north pond edge allowed the development of several effluvial sensations. Throughout the day water reflections are projected onto the soffit. The roof channels rainwater to a central spout over the pond. A horizontal window in the tatami room frames a meditative fragment of water. The floor of glossy ebonized birch has the sensation of a deep still pool - the grass tatami mats become an island within an island.
The result is an interior volume that is protective and serene but alive with subtle energy.
Commissioned Project: 2008
Design Associate: Jesse Haas
Meditation Hut II “Le Cadeau”
The hut is located in back corner of a residential garden, nestled in a mature landscape. For the designer-owner-builder, the experience of its creation was a retreat both from work and into work - the hands-on construction process in itself was cathartic.
Much like a wrapped gift, a single material - white cedar shingles - cover the entire exposed exterior surface. The hand cut shingles were layered and detailed to create a simple archetypal house shape - like a child's first attempt to represent a dwelling in drawing form. The shingles are left to weather to silver gray.
The interior is unadorned, except for three tatami mats that rest on the black stained structural base. Reflective white walls hover above this base to create an environment of simplicity and lightness. Small windows were placed throughout the surface to cross-ventilate and to frame specific views. A casement window in the lower southwest corner frames colorful plants; an even smaller window cut into the door frames the head of a Buddha sculpture that greets visitors along the approach path. The surrounding trees filter restrained light into the space throughout the day. The freestanding, floating structure softly resonates with the songs of birds from adjacent trees.
Research Project: 2004
Publication, Small Project Practitioners Journal No. 41, 2007
News feature, Washington Post, 6/23/2011
Publication, Out of Scale - AIA Small Projects Awards, ORO Editions, 2015
Meditation Hut I
The meditation hut is located in the backyard of a small residence in a working-class neighborhood in central Illinois. In it’s design, construction, and purpose, it was conceived as both a form and a process that encouraged the mind to focus, to center, and to transcend. The architect completed the construction himself - clearing, digging, anchoring, framing, wiring, cladding, and finishing. The hut was built entirely from off-the-shelf products in order to assimilate it into its vernacular setting. The experience of its creation was a retreat both to and from work.
The size and proportion of a traditional tatami mat provides the human-scaled module for the floor plane, the fenestration, and the roof. The large windows are oriented east and west to create a continuous play of sunlight across the v-shaped ceiling throughout the day.
Through material selection, formal analogy, detailing and arrangement, architecture, landscape, and meaning are woven into a single composition. The Hut is raised off the ground to allow the garden to flow underneath. Rainwater collected from the v-shaped roof fills the ground pool underneath the small casement window to nourish the plant life. Collected water reflects sunlight into the room. A fountain provides meditative forground sound to mask the noise from a nearby road.
Research Project: 1998
Exhibition, I Space Gallery, Chicago, January 1999
Exhibition, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Conference, Fargo, ND, 1999
Honor Award, AIA Central Illinois Chapter, 2000
Publication, Wallpaper* Magazine, London, October 2007
Kamakura Japanese Restaurant, Champaign, Illinois
The tatami room is part of the transformation of a former automobile dealership into a 130-seat capacity restaurant. Concentric spatial layers separate the tatami room from the larger dining area, in order to create privacy without requiring doors. To clarify and enrich the space, each layer is identified by its unique earthy color. The result is an interpretation of traditional Japanese residential architecture. The horizontal emphasis of translucent screens, continuous horizontal bands of millwork, carefully directed lighting and shadows, and the overall room proportions create a peaceful, meditative dining environment.
One unique challenge in developing this space was to provide wheelchair accessibility to the floor seating. This was accomplished by constructing a removable infill box. When the box is in place, tatami seating wraps fully around the central table. When the box is removed, an accessible opening is created at the end of the table.
Commissioned Project: 1995
Associate Architect: Guy Hampel
Significant Structures | Urbana house's new owner, architect take designer's modernism to new heights
"Victor" Meditation Hut featured in calm down. recreational architecture
"Victor" Meditation Hut featured in Modern Butterfly Roofs on DWELL.com
Spaces of Serenity featured at AIA'19.
From Olympians to Blind Pigs, lecture at Vallès School of Architecture, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Spain, September 25, 2018
Jeffery Poss Architect, PLLC
Jeffery S. Poss, FAIA, Principal