The London Buddhist Centre had been using a Victorian brick farmhouse and other converted farm buildings for retreats; but a legacy gave them money to create a purpose-built centre on this beautiful, remote site.
The farmhouse has been converted to provide living space for the centre staff; while the layout for the new centre is based around the requirements for retreats. There is simple visitor accommodation for up to sixty guests in discrete blocks, a kitchen with shared living and dining spaces, and a shrine room. The buildings are all linked by covered walkways, and frame the equally important landscaped courtyards, the central Sangha or community courtyard and the more private and meditative Stupa and Akshobya courtyards.
The accommodation buildings are simple exposed blockwork with timber roofs, the kitchen and living room block is built between pre-cast concrete portal frames with a timber roof, all are carefully detailed to expose as much structure as possible. The eight metre high shrine room has exposed stack-bonded brickwork walls containing several recessed panels and large number of windows at high level with hit-and-miss brickwork that fills the interior with diffuse light; this required a carefully detailed concealed steel frame to ensure stability.
The civil engineering and landscaping included construction of limited visitor parking, provision for fire engine access and design for both a surface water soak away and a new sewage treatment plant. The foul drainage required careful detailing as the foul treatment plant needed to be located next to the access at the south of the site while discharge, as agreed with the Environment Agency, was limited to a ditch to the north of the site.