In 2013 Pure Land Ltd. asked Walters & Cohen to redesign Vajrasana Buddhist Retreat Centre in Suffolk. The existing centre had made use of an old Suffolk farm, with its outbuildings, but we asked W&C to start from a blank sheet and design a custom built retreat centre with increased capacity, purpose built shrine room on a fully accessible site.
What you will discover when you visit Vajrasana is a beautiful and unique building, made from simple materials that create perfect conditions for being on retreat. The buildings are wrapped around a sequence of courtyards that form a transition between the communal areas for eating and sleeping, and the large spacious shrine room. The buildings are fully integrated into the landscape and create an atmosphere of reflective contemplation. It has a capacity for 60 people with the bedrooms split up into simple and elegant separate ‘pods’, arranged around a stunning open garden courtyard. The shrine room complex is a sequence of external courtyards and internal spaces that promote depth and perspective and lead to the heart of the centre which is the shrine room – a dynamic and tranquil sacred space.
The building is unique in it being one of very few modern, purposely designed Buddhist Retreat centers in the world. The project was named RIBA East’s Building of the Year 2017 and has won several other awards: an AJ Architecture Award, a RIBA East Award, a RIBA National Award and an Honor Award at the Faith & Form/IFRAA Awards 2017. In 2018 it won a Civic Trust Award and was shortlisted for their Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design.