The four-storey residence nestled in lovely natural surroundings at Wat Pa Wachirabanpot in Chon Buri isn’t easily seen from afar, but it’s surprisingly easy to get to. It holds a meditation centre and is the residence for the women who come to practise, serving as their second home.
Strikingly designed, each of the 100 rooms in the building enjoys breathtaking views of mountains and woodland. The structure is chiefly concrete, but the design is humble enough that it’s anything but an eyesore in this magnificent setting.
A large man-made pond in front of the residence is, again, conceived to be multifunctional. It is not only pleasing to the eye and enhances the grandeur of the building, but it’s also a reservoir for the clean water that descends from the hills, useful for drinking and other domestic uses. Plus, it keeps prying eyes at a distance so that no one is disturbed while they’re meditating. The soil excavated for the pond was used to establish the foundation of the residence.
The interior is meant to be airy and well ventilated. In the long corridor are ventilation tubes installed above and below.
The balconies vary in size, inspired by the rhythms of sermons and the breathing of the meditating participants as they strive to achieve mindfulness. They count from one to nine as an exercise in concentration, and count again at the end of each cycle to foster mindfulness.
The spacious rooftop is surrounded by water, almost as if to keep the practitioners from falling off.
The placidity of this scene can’t be seen from the outside, though – it can only be appreciated from within.
The symmetric open-air corridor is paved with bricks in a pattern borrowed from a venerable temple, in a tribute to ancient Thai architecture.
The working team tapped its members’ expertise and kept watch on the budget. These were priorities, but so too was “the existence of things”. All these factors are reflected in the rough exterior surface and the meticulous interior design of the rooms.
From a distance, the building is like a white box inserted into the mountain. It was in fact designed so that the rocks stayed in their original places surrounded by the pond – in the middle of the structure – to keep the temperature inside mild and enhances the rocks’ stoic presence where they can be viewed from every level through the skylight box.