[noun] – “a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.”
The modern notion of a retreat has a branching history, taking influence from the Greek and Roman baths of the antiquity, as well as the retreats by which the church clergy members would take annually to pray and meditate. Today, a retreat has become a more secular and open concept withdrawing from daily life to rest and replenish the body, mind, and for some, the soul.
Once the practice of only the highest members of a society, the care of one’s wellbeing has become a global industry. ‘Wellness Tourism’ contributes around $639 Billion to the global economy, and can be found in many different forms in almost every country. However, with this boom in investment into wellbeing, we unfortunately see that the consumers of this sector not representative of the global community, but instead being mostly caucasian from middle- and upper-class demographics. Furthermore, a gender slant on the sector has emerged in modern times, with retreats and the health and wellbeing industry as a whole being largely aimed at women over men.
The design approached this problem sensitively, aiming to create a space that is welcoming and accessible to a wider audience. This is achieved through the design and propsed business model.
The design embraces a selection of the biophilic design principles, including organised complexity, colours evoking nature, natural materials and forms that evoke nature.
Studies have shown that circular spaces are more inducive of conversation. This concept was adopted into the design, to create a social space for strangers to become friends through a shared pursuit of wellbeing and personal development.
Being located in a broadleaf deciduous forest, with many mature trees with trunk diameters over a meter, we saw this as an opportunity to utilise the sites on material resources to be structural timber frames.
Working alongside Thrive Limitlessly, a holistic wellbeing practice, we developed a retreat model that brought together a comprehensive experience that introduces a ‘complete’ approach to improving wellbeing, mental and physical health, and progress in personal development. The centre offers both group and individual services: from yoga to hypnotherapy, meditation to massage, qigong to gardening. Through living out this new lifestyle, new habit patterns can be formed, which can be continually nurtured beyond there visit to the retreat, acheive lasting and sustainable wellness.