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Yoga and Architecture - Part 2

Last month we dived into the concept of yoga and architecture - specifically how we can design spaces that purposely create a setting for #relaxation and #meditation.


This month we are excited to continue this topic by further exploring architectural works that prioritize #physical, #psychological, and #spiritual needs and by further breaking down the formula for spaces that promote this necessary refuge for #relaxation and #meditation.


Many of the operations taken in these spaces create environments for reflection, introspection, healing, and therefore could also be applied in other relevant programs, such as #housing, #education, #hospital, and even #office spaces.


1. Spatial relationships



The main element of each of these projects starts with a large communal space. In the literal sense this space is the programmatic location for the practice of yoga. This is the central space of the building where people gather for practice, and generally is a free plan, flexible and adaptable to different uses. In the metaphorical sense this space is the central hub for gathering from which all energy of the building flows out of into the secondary spaces.


The height of the spaces is a choice of each client and architect, but the main room, at least, is designed in most cases with a greater height to achieve the hierarchical importance and grandness associated with tall ceilings.


“We think about the architecture of the temples, in introverted and silent spaces, in places that look inward, of dim and changing light. (...) We think of the space we need to look at us inward.”

DX Architects, about their project 'AYC' in Santiago de Chile

2. Environmental Conditions


Sound:



“There is a belief that these spaces must be completely silent, but precisely the idea of these disciplines is to be developed in spite of the ambient noise. In fact, in many cases, it is recommended to fully perform in exteriors, as many sounds of nature can help a better realization of different practices. In the case of closed rooms, these sounds (and even smells) can be integrated by incorporating indoor courtyards or gardens that attract birds, including moving water, and/or allow the flow of the wind.”

“The design premise was to create a center in constant contact with nature. For this we planned a flagstone garden around the property, with a set of perforations to create interior courtyards where gardens were generated. The spaces and their uses are constantly related through the courtyards and gardens. “

Ambrosi I Etchegaray, about their project Spa Querétaro in Querétaro, México


Ventilation:



An increasingly relevant topic due in majority to the Covid-19 Pandemic, ventilation is a fundamental element of any healthy environment. There are both passive and active strategies for making a space properly ventilated. High efficiency ventilation systems can be incorporated into any project and make a huge impact on the interior balance of the space. However, passive ventilation strategies should not be ignored! It is important to allow cross ventilation across the room, making sure that there is a certain current renew of oxygen inside, during the session or at the times when the room is not being occupied. For this, we should generate a first opening in the façade that receives the prevailing winds, and a second opening (preferably bigger) on the opposite wall.


Lighting:



In the case of Yoga, direct connection to the sun is essential in many of their exercises. For this reason, there is a huge opportunity to prioritize passive lighting strategies. Large South facing windows (North facing for the Southern Hemisphere) and light shelves to bounce daylight into the room are just a few ways to maximize the amount of natural light that enters the room. However, with this increased natural light, systems to property control and regulate the intensity, such as solar shading devices, should be incorporated.


In order to avoid glare light should not fall directly on people. This can be achieved through overhead openings, windows at floor level, fuzzy screens, and light courtyard surrounding the main room.


If practices are carried out at night, artificial lighting choice should be warm and also adjustable.


“The construction is transformed with light changes, thus achieving a balance with its natural surroundings, which is transmitted into their spaces and therefore to project users.”

Carolina Echevarri + Alberto Burckhardt, about their project 'Yoga-Kamadhemy' in Cundinamarca, Colombia



3. Aesthetics and Materials

The goal of the space should be to promote an internal exploration of the self. For this reason you should try to avoid distracting elements or exaggerated decorations. It is recommended using warm materials and soft colors (or directly white) to help attendees achieve a certain degree of initial concentration.



Connection with the earth below is a fundamental element of practice and is carried out through permanent connection with the floor, so floor materials should be of a natural construction while still being easy to clean and wipe down. Thus, floors are usually covered with wood or materials that are 'soft' and warm to the touch.



"The aim of the project is the creation of spaces where materials, furniture, lighting and colors accompany yoga practice, creating a smooth transition in the path. It is relaxed and limited spaces that allow the user to stop their busy lifestyle and connecting slowly, with body and a serene mental space."

Studio Shito about their project 'YogaOne Mandri' in Barcelona




4. Orientation and geometry

Many of the various practices put great emphasis on one’s cardinal orientation in order to connect with the world around. For example: orienting to the East which aids the flow of energies across the earth or to the north which allows alignment with the magnetic field of the planet. This has a huge impact on site design and building orientation, which then trickles down to daylighting and natural ventilation.






Other practices focus on sacred geometries. These organic references allow us to drop some stiffness of a more practical design, moving to generate curves or circular shapes that could impact positively on the user experience inside of the building.



Check out the original article from ArchDaily here with links to additional projects that focus on meditation and yoga in architecture!!




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