It’s as if John Pawson is trying to prove that monastic austerity is capable of brightening our spiritual needs—no surprise, considering that with the minimalist British architect, “Every architectural word tells.”

A reductive design process that questions the necessity of every element in the desire to eliminate what is superfluous. This discretion in design is vital for a group of robed Cistercian monks, originally from France, who deliberately seeks seclusion. The restored Our Lady of Novy Dvur monastery, in the Czech Republic is their entire world—based on bare necessities and self denial.

Mr. Pawson’s edgy poetry in the Our Lady of Novy Dvur monastery is evident. Everything is a shade of white. Spartan interiors with a dramatic stripped down elegance of modernism that reveals hidden sources of light. Concrete, plaster and wood; no stained glass; minimal comfort.

This extraordinary serenity is rare. And we are glad that Cistercian monks do these things, so we don’t have to. Well, sort of.

For those of Mr. Pawson’s fan club: The London Design Museum’s exhibition “John Pawson Plain Space,” will feature John Pawson’s work from September, 22 2010 to January, 30 2011.


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  1. jmgonzales

    i’m not Catholic, but the tranquilo amazes me : )

  2. Awesome – and the point indeed is to inspire and dwell in awe.

  3. The perfect quietude of the form.

    Inner nature of the being unified with the environment, reaching the perfect non-dual harmony that the ZEN as much intend.

    It is practically possible to see with the eyes open in the atmosphere the silent pray of monks.

    Very Zen, very contemplative.


  4. If more places of worship looked like this, I would go all the time for meditative and – potentially – religious purposes. Quite nice.



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