Yasodhara Ashram’s Temple of Light was named as a 2019 Wood Design Awards winner for its innovative use of wood. (Photo submitted)

Ashram temple wins design award

In front of an audience of more than 400 architects and engineers at the Vancouver Convention Centre earlier in March, the Yasodhara Ashram’s Temple of Light was named as a 2019 Wood Design Awards winner for its innovative use of wood. The awards are sponsored by Wood WORKS! BC.

Patkau Architects of Vancouver, a world-renowned design firm, was the award’s recipient.

“We are delighted that Patkau Architects is being honoured with the Wood Innovation Award for the Temple of Light,” Swami Lalitananda, president of the ashram, said last week. “We were initially attracted to their work by their curved designs, which are unusual in architecture. Their talent, together with the expertise of our Kootenay neighbours, Spearhead, who fabricated the complex modules that comprise the Temple, has expanded cutting edge architectural and construction knowledge.”

The new Temple of Light opened last summer, four years after the original temple was damaged beyond repair by a fire.

The complex, curvilinear geometry of the Temple of Light was achieved with relatively modest means and conventional building materials by fabricating its sweeping petal-like forms utilizing principally straight engineered timber elements. The straight members are arranged along continuously sweeping rule lines that reside on the dome’s petal-like surfaces. These straight members also provide a natural division seam and robust connection plate that facilitated subdividing the larger, wood-framed petal shells into modular components.

Each sub-panel was manufactured in Nelson to a high degree of precision off-site using modern digital manufacturing methods in custom, reusable jigs with knock-outs that allow the completed, convex frames to be released once assembled. The pre-clad sub-panels were then shipped to the site, efficiently assembled to enclose the domed primary worship space, and sealed. This unusual wood construction technique enabled this project to be executed on a tight budget, in a remote location, using local trades with remarkable results. The complex play of light and sound on the temple’s evocative, curvilinear wood-framed surfaces confounds the relative simplicity concealed within. This structure is designed to consume a low amount of energy, owing to its high-performance building envelope, efficient glazing, geothermal system and adjacent photovoltaic array.

“When the first Temple burned in 2014, we wanted to keep the important elements of Swami Radha’s vision: the domelike structure, the eight entries, the skylight at the centre, and the large windows overlooking Kootenay Lake,” Swami Lalitananda said. “We envisioned the new Temple as being more organic and spiralling in form, though we did not know how that could happen. We are pleased that the architects were able to maintain the original vision while innovating to create this lotus-like space.

“The eight doors of the Temple represent diverse paths into the unity of Light at the centre, where the rise of the dome and the skylight create a sense of uplifting transcendence.”

Among the many Kootenay contractors who were part of the Temple of Light construction was Creston’s Tratech Mechanical Ltd., Traven Huscroft’s plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company.

The Temple of Light is open to visitors from 9-5 daily. Taste of the Ashram is a program held throughout the year that offers a yoga class, lunch, and tour, including the Temple of Light. Check our website to learn more www.yasodhara.org

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