At last, a fresh take on monastic space.
Writing for Fast Company‘s Co.Design, John Pavlus turns us on to Thai architect Suriya Umpansiriratana’s “Monk Cell Project,” a “single-monk monastery (called a ‘cell’) whose circular structure assists walking meditation while symbolizing the cyclic routines of the monk’s daily life.”
Suriya Umpansiriratana’s “Monk Cell Project” turns the monastery itself into a symbolic visualization of a monk’s spartan routines.
A circular walkway (painted to match the monk’s traditional robes) is divided into three equal sections, each of which are oriented towards the position of the sun that matches that portion of the monk’s daily routine. For instance, from 4 a.m. to noon, an east wall offers shade during morning chants and the daily meal. From noon until 8 p.m., a roof protects the monk from harsh midday sun. And during the final period, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., evening chants take place in an exposed area of the circle with a hanging mosquito net to sleep under.
From Design Boom:
the ‘monk cell project’ by thai architect suriya umpansiriratana is a formal structure of a monk’s cell articulating their daily routine supporting his practice of buddhist teachings. it is designed to create an atmosphere conducive to the monk’s practice of noble conduct. the circular form allows for continuous walking meditation, but also functions as a symbol of the 24-hour cycle of the practice schedule:
– the first period, from 04:00 to 12:00: after waking up, during chanting, meditation, and the daily meal, a single wall to the east shields the monk from the morning sun.
– the second period, from 12:00 to 20:00: during the time for studying the buddha’s teachings, the simple roof overhead shields the monk from the daytime sun.
– third period, from 20:00 to 04:00: chanting and meditation takes place in a space exposed to the elements, and the monk then sleeps under the hanging mosquito net umbrella.
the daily routine is expressed naturally by the design of the building. the circular form allows for precise directional siting of the building. the primary structural material is steel, and the color follows that of the monk’s robes.
structure of the building : structure steel – frame, painted cement board, plastered concrete, principal exterrior material : painted cement board, plastered concrete principal interior, material : painted cement board, plastered concrete
chief architect suriya umpansiriratana, kyai nuichan advisors buddhism – venerable p.yanasobhano- venerable mahatong dhamavudho consultancy – apichart puemsagul structural engineer -tanya ongsiriporn project team – anan yuenprakon – natapon nimlamai – pirak anurakyawachon- panicha bhusarakumtrakul