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Poustinia

  • Architect:
    Architects Bates Maher
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2005
  • Location: Munster
Poustinia

Citation

Southern Over €300,000

Architect’s Comment
Glencomeragh House Retreat Center is located in a valley between the Comeragh Mountains and Slievenamon. The campus is bounded by a river to the south, and mature woodland to the west.

The Poustinia are located on the Northern incline of the campus and are positioned close to existing plantings of mature broad-leaf trees, which form their entrance and terrace spaces. 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. A day bed opposite the window overlooking the wider landscape, allows rest to be enhanced by the enjoyment of the view.

The locally sourced timber cladding in alternating strips of smooth sawn larch and rough sawn douglas fir contrasts with the minimalist interior with its bespoke furniture and suggests the conjunction of the temporal and the transcendent to which the retreat tradition is devoted.

Clients’ Comment

Glencomeragh House (Rosminian House of Prayer) is located in the Comeragh Mountains just three miles from the village of Kilsheelan, Co. Tipperary.  The Rosminian congregation, who have been living there since 1960, administers it.  In 1990 the decision was taken to open up Glencomeragh House as a Retreat Centre.  Since then much restorative work has been done on the original house (built in 1820), on Glen Lodge and on the grounds.  As we turned the new millennium a decision was taken to explore the possibility of further developing Glencomeragh.  Architects Bates Maher were invited to present a design for a series of Poustinia to be located on the campus.  This they did and the decision was made to proceed with the development in the summer of 2003.

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.

We are delighted with how the project and ideas have developed and feel that the Poustinia will meet a need, which is deeply buried within all of us, the need to be in touch with ourselves and with God.

Citation
As in Kavanagh's poem of Christmas memories, three platonic figures - enigmatic forms against the sky - ride across the hilltop, at once belonging to nature and set apart from it. Small spaces for contemplation confound their modest scale by encapsulating at their cores tiny gardens, idealised images of the world outside.