There can be a presence of peace and stillness in overwhelming repetition. The common conditions required to trigger the state of tranquility are often emptiness, vastness, and lightness. However, in Meditation Hall by Chinese architecture firm HIL Architects, those conditions are completely replaced by narrow spaces, a darker colour palette, and repeating elements.
Located in Huanghua, Cangzhou, China, Meditation Hall is programmed as a new retreat site for surrounding locals. Originally a retail space, filled with linear structural columns and beams, the site poses a challenge for spatial division between the inner and outer, public and semi-private. For this reason, the designers use sheets of dark wood put against each other with intentional gaps, as continuous dividers that extend the visual thread to connect different spaces together while creating ambiguous boundaries. Spaces to be occupied are raised, with grey stones scattered throughout to differentiate them from ground-level pathways lined with facades of wooden louvers. Reflecting the louvers is a running channel of water, amplifying the continuum that already existed.
Somewhere along that continuum, spectators of the space are put in a trance that’s almost fictional and surreal. Repetitiveness plays like a minimal illusion that bends the minds and the warm environment of timber, and yellow lights ease the bodies. Digging deep into the soul of oneself and the core of this project, one can then find a different mode of peace within.