14 May 2020 • Institutions
This Beijing art complex’s meditation space gives yoga studios a run for their money
Architectural historians like to make an example of the Pantheon: for a Roman, to kneel at a pew and look up into its oculus was to confront one’s minuteness in the vastness of the universe itself. Attempting to duplicate this sense of awe and reflection is architect Jun Murata’s Meditation Space for Creation, an 80-sq-m meditative retreat, gallery and artist’s residence nestled within the Beijing Songzhuan art colony.
Religious institutions have long worked in two-fold, providing members a community and offering reflection. In the past few decades modernized cultural practices have emerged – many of them spiritual – that confirm a similar human drive for self-contemplation: take, for instance, the rise of astrology and tarot-card reading among millennials. Or the growing popularity of yoga and meditation as not only aerobic practice, but a lifestyle. The normalization of therapy in Western culture is yet another example of human craving for self-reflection and understanding.
Reflecting this zeitgeist, Osaka-based Jun Murata iterated on a new sort of architectural typology: a meditation room for the everyday person. One part of Murata’s building, a centre for contemporary art, functions as a gallery that exhibits and organizes international art. To complement its programme, the designers devised a temporary artist’s residence with a unique addition: a long, stark-white hall with two single openings on each end. This contemplative space is referred to as the ‘Tunnel'.
Being completely open to the elements on either end, those standing in the 12-m-long Tunnel have a framed view of the outdoors and its changing seasons, the room’s pure white surfaces evoking the effects of a picture frame. On the south side of the hall, a vertical wall slit casts sharp beams of light onto the floor and adjacent stair. This staircase leads to a small wading pool. Here, the garden’s swaying trees are reflected across the pool’s rippling surface.
A representative of the design team commented that in inhabiting this contemplative space, ‘guests are freed from daily sensations, prompted only by light experiences. Here the human mind approaches the inner world of nothing, spreading to the great horizon outside and connecting with the world.’
Read about more wellness-focused spaces here.