Meditation Pavilions near Kilsheelan
Glen Lodge was erected in 1820 and originally formed part of a grand neo-Gothic estate roughly three kilometres from the centre of Kilsheelan in Ireland. In 1960, the property was acquired by the Rosminians, a charitable religious organization that wished to create an educational centre and a retreat for future monks and priests on the site.
Now, with the four new pavilions for meditation, the order offers accommodation for roughly 30 guests. Three of these pavilions are linked to the existing building by a circular path. The fourth is set somewhat lower and is designed for disabled people. Not only monks can retire to these simple cubic timber structures and take pleasure in the landscape. Anyone who wishes to get away from the stress of everyday life can find a place for peace and contemplation here. Built on a grassy hillside, the pavilions extend from the River Suir in the south up to the edge of the woods at the northern end of the site. The individual structures, almost identical in form, are oriented in different directions to achieve the best possible view and influx of light, thereby creating a compelling layout. Because of the slope, they are raised in part above the ground.
Internally, the pavilions are laid out in a spiralling, snail-like form. The large entrance door opens to create a sheltered terrace. From there, the internal space winds in a curve about a central atrium. The degree of privacy can be determined by the guests themselves. By closing the window shutters, they have an introverted space for meditation focused on the glazed central area. When the windows and doors are open, the retreat is transformed into a brightly lit pavilion. The boarded external cladding in the larch and Douglas fir of the region estab-lishes a link with the surrounding woods. In contrast, the plain white interior is designed essentially for contemplative purposes. Even so, visitors do not have to forgo aspects of comfort such as a television, a pool with physiotherapy, a fireplace and a bed with a view to the valley.
Architects: Architects Bates Maher, Dublin Kevin Bates, Tom Maher
Structural engineers: Geogheagan Consulting, Dublin