Novy Dvur Monastery

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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