The design of the house, which sleeps six people, is based upon the concept of a retreat where serenity, contemplation and restoration are foremost; a place where a week-long retreat will immerse the visitor in a zone of extreme calm and leaving them revived and re-invigorated to resume their responsibilities in the world. The building where the retreat unfolds is both simple yet luxurious. It is the result of ve years of work by the architect and writer John Pawson, working in conjunction with the philosopher Alain de Botton, and has been deeply influenced by Japanese design and the architecture of the Benedictine monks.
The design draws on a variety of ingredients of calm:
· a contemplation chamber buried into the hillside where one is invited to lie down in a blank cavernous zone and purify and train the mind on true essentials.
· an outside contemplation zone enabling the user to repeat the exercise with the Welsh mountains as a backdrop.
· a generous living area, large bathrooms, bedrooms, cupboards and common areas allow for both complete privacy and – when it’s desired – sociability and communion.
· a library bedroom, lined with some of the most therapeutic works of eastern and western literature.
· a music bedroom, with a suitably generous music systems and a carefully curated selection of transcendent and calming music from all ages and genres.
· a bathing bedroom which provides a room-based bathing platform in which to lie and reassess existence with the help of views onto a welsh valley.
· the house is placed at the nexus of a sequence of walks curated by the artist Hamish Fulton, so that at certain points in the retreat, you can invigorate the body in order further to soothe the mind.
The rural retreat has been constructed from over 80,000 handmade Danish bricks. The combination of light and dark-coloured bricks, pale polished concrete doors and Douglas firm timber ceilings, doors and furniture creates an atmosphere of quiet reflection, ideal for escaping the demands of modern life.
Creative Director of Living Architecture Alain De Botton said:
“With Life House, we were looking to reinvent the monastery for a secular modern age; based upon the concept of a retreat; to take us back to the earliest days of Buddhism in the East, and of Stoic philosophy in the West. In both cases, the busy city was held to provide certain opportunities while at the same time, cutting us off from others. Chiefly, the risk is that we will forget to make time for ourselves, and omit to understand our own minds – and our need for calm and perspective.”
Architect John Pawson said:
“It has been a pleasure to work with the Living Architecture team on a totally new type of project for me. In this house I wanted to create a modern, secular retreat, where guests can experience the benefits of introspection, solitude and immersion in nature.
“The location is wonderfully remote and I wanted to create a sanctuary where people feel at home, but never insulated from the elemental character of the surrounding landscape.”
Source: Living Architecture