Sunday, October 6, 2013

San Francisco Architect Carves Niche in Spiritual Design

The design of the retreat hall at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center does not follow Japanese austerity tradition, but echoes the resort's early 20th century buildings. 

San Francisco, architect, spiritual design, zen, Buddhism

San Francisco, architect, spiritual design, zen, BuddhismWhile the elegant, efficient style - clear lines, honest materials and pure craftsmanship - is deeply rooted in the architecture of Japanese Buddhist temples, Helen Degenhardt claims that her training in her native Germany instilled many of the same values - not surprising, given the country's Bauhaus design tradition.

San Francisco, architect, spiritual design, zen, Buddhism 
Her first commission in spiritual design - a niche she has carved out for herself in the Bay Area over the past two decades - came in 1992 from the San Francisco Zen Center, whose meditation hall, or Zendo, at Green Gulch Farm was in dire need of an extreme makeover, Zen edition.


Degenhardt's renovation was based on a simple rectangular structure - lofty and expansive, in the spirit of the former barn. As a matter of course for meditation halls, doors are placed on an axis that's anchored by a central altar - where a Buddha statue is happily perched - and narrow windows ring the upper perimeter of the room.

San Francisco, architect, spiritual design, zen, Buddhism

Read the full story, and see the rest of the pictures on The San Francisco Chronicle.

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