This unique fit out project provided a new home for a Western Buddhist group (Triratna) who sought to develop a style to represent a Buddhist aesthetic within a West London setting. The site comprises the ground and basement of a speculative residential block lacking in any of the finesse desired in their new home. Issues of privacy, mechanical servicing, acoustics, and lighting all required addressing – and without noticeably impacting upon the quality of users experience.
First, we identified their ideal layout which was then translated into a series of portals and passages directing movement from the street, through a series of reception and gathering spaces – and finally on to more intimate and reflective spaces. These reception spaces move between the lively ground floor café to a more meditative lower ground floor and can accommodate musical concerts, yoga practice, a death café, speaking engagements, and even a community choir. Portals opening from these spaces invite visitors into a bodyworks studio, a therapy space, administration, a study space and two shrine rooms.
The overall design aesthetic has consciously not been derived from the eastern tradition of Buddhism. Rather it seeks to develop something more independent, something with a more West London flavour, yet something that is timeless. We have sought to utilize elemental, crafted, and above all, natural materials combined with light – natural and artificial – to create spaces that will offer solace and endure over time. Sometimes, within the new centre, even the air itself seems to slow down.
From the start till the end it’s been an absolute joy to work with Ralph. He’s a gifted designer, an excellent craftsman, as well as having the skills and wisdom of a true diplomat. He has highly successfully translated and distilled the needs, specs and vision for our organisation into clear design principles.
Throughout the somewhat complex process of us moving into our brand-new premises and all it entailed for our organisation, he was inexhaustibly friendly, patient, thorough, helpful and fair. He seems to have an unlimited source of energy and enthusiasm. His guidance throughout this project has proven to be invaluable to us.