In this week long charrette, I developed a scheme for a Cistercian monastery. My design was selected as a nominee for statewide competition.
Bucks County's landscape reaches from riverbeds to vast farmlands. These diverse topographies invite a fabric of stone and wood buildings to be tucked into hillsides to take appropriate advantage of protective landforms and resource rich waterways. Of course, land has been developed for commercial and residential purposes, but much of it has been preserved or continuously farmed. While monasteries evoke mental images of stone arches in European picture-scapes, their building types can be translated to modern forms. The design for this Cistercian monastery takes cues from historic structures, embraces the massing of contextual farm buildings, and introduces contrasting materials.
Like nearby farms, the monastery is a collection of separate buildings that interact with the site's slope differently according to use. Each of the buildings features a similar form that brings southern light into a clerestory and draws it down into inhabited spaces. The introduction of indirect light creates varied experiences of light and shadow in different spaces across the campus. The buildings are sited according to existing access ways to minimize additional paving requirements. One new parking area is added to make for more accessible entry points to the visitor accommodations and amenities. The arrangement of the buildings also engages different users to experience varied journeys to get from church to residences or residences to farmland, for example.
The storage building adjacent to the main parking area serves as the mechanical powerhouse of the site, specifically for distribution of solar and wind generated power. In addition to day lighting systems and energy generation, the site incorporates ponds into the site for water retention. These wetlands both host geothermal coils for the buildings' heating and cooling systems, but also serve as irrigation basins for the terraced farmlands. Further energy conserving tactics include: operable windows in most spaces, including means for cross ventilation. Carefully considered furniture placement in residential cells provides insulation to the outside, particularly, built-ins separate beds from being placed against exterior walls.
Status: School Project
Location: Bucks County, PA
My Role: Individual Designer