A quiet place to sort things out

These serene, spare little houses made the rounds on the shelter blogs before Modern House Notes was even imagined – so, sorry for posting something you may have seen already, but they are new to me. I love the way the outside world can be excluded by drawing shutters, but there is a narrow glassed-in slice that cuts into each house to let in light that glows from the heart of the space.

Glencomeragh House Retreat Center in Ireland, (the nearest village is Kilsheelan, which has won many Tidy Town awards – I had to include that tidbit), is run by the Rosminian congregation, who have been living there since 1960. In 2003 they commissioned the architectural firm Bates Maher to create a series of Poustinia to be located on the campus. Pousitinia seems to be used as plural and singular for this: Poustinia is a Russian word for 'desert' and it is used to designate a small cabin or room set a side for silence and prayer. In very old Russia it meant a physical quiet place where people went to find god within themselves, a place of quiet reflection, separated from the 'noise' which we deal with everyday.

Each Poustinia is orientated to capture different views over the surrounding countryside and to give a variance in sun light as the day progresses. They are set into and over the hillside, which has been planted as a wild flower meadow with a variety in the mix that will create seasonal blooming. A circular path connects the Poustinia to the Main House and a network of paths and ponds that also lead to riverside and woodland walks. The building's form creates its own trapped space of the site's limestone. With the window shutters closed an inner space is created to encourage contemplation and meditation. – GF

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