Completion Year: 1995
Program: Single Family Vacation Home
Beinfield Project Team: Bruce Beinfield FAIA
A Spiritual Retreat on a Caribbean Oceanfront Jungle Site
Shortly before midnight, while drinking rum on the Island of Anguilla, our client shared with us story of the defining moment of his life.
Many years earlier, while recovering from a climb up Mt. Everest, he had been escorted through the streets of Nepal to a doorway. When he entered, he found himself face to face with a Dali Lama, who asked him why he had come. The reply was that he was in search of his “next step”. Pointing at him, and with a force that literally knocked him across the room, the Dali Lama said the word: “DISCIPLINE”.
Our design for this retreat is an exploration of “discipline”; a path that involves investing the acts of one’s day with ritual and ceremony – the bringing of meaning to the ordinary, while tending to the full spectrum of human needs. The opening up of the self to magic and to that which lies ahead.
This design is conceived outside the paradigm of a typical vacation house. It is a place separate from the cultural clichés which litter the contemporary environment. It plays with the concept of time, alluding to both the distant past and future, creating a timeless ambiguity. A primal place in harmony with the incident energies on the planet’s surface. A place to search for that which has been lost, and that which has not yet been found. A place of ritual, ceremony, and renewal-a platform from which to gather energy and let the spirit soar.
The architectural forms are inspired by the Mayan Temples at Tikal, due west of the site in Guatemala. The temple to the east is female, and the west is male. The temples share energy and participate in an ongoing dialogue. The central room of the house exists in neither of these structures, but in the outdoor space between them. Some places in this dwelling are easy to get to, and some more difficult. The Eastern tower shields the site from the neighboring property, while reaching up to capture the trade winds. No major trees are to be cut in the site development, leaving the natural energy of the site undisturbed, and allowing the primal nature of the environment to endure.