Gabion cages filled with volcanic stone support meditation platform at Utah spiritual retreat

An expansive terrace provides a meditation space at this weekend residence and spiritual retreat in the Utah desert, which US firm Imbue Design completed using stone-filled gabions for some of the external walls (+ slideshow).

The home, named Buddhist Retreat, sits atop a rocky bluff overlooking Capitol Reef National Park. It is set within the rugged landscape and surrounded by local juniper trees.

The two-bedroom residence is made up of a pair of intersecting volumes.

The principal section is a long, thin mass that supports an expansive rooftop terrace – which acts as a “meditation deck”.

The architects describe it as “a space that suspends the user in a grand moment of meditation, free and clear of visual and mental obstruction”.

After entering from this area, visitors are led downwards to the main rooms.



On the lower level, the studio laid out two patios. Once inside the house, guests are immediately within the main living space, which comprises the kitchen, living and dining functions.

This space features a glazed expanse that occupies the entire end wall of the house. It opens, allowing residents to step outside onto a ground-level terrace.

“The operable glass wall disappears to further blur the line between interior and exterior, function and nature,” said the architects.

A secondary volume clad in black metallic siding encompasses the master suite.

A bright red spiral staircase leads up to an office, which provides panoramic views of the valley beyond a small outdoor terrace.

Gabion cages filled with volcanic rock make up the structure of the house’s main volume.

“The rock not only ties the retreat to the site visually, but also absorbs and dissipates heat from the hot summer sun through thermal mass and increased surface area,” the studio explained.

Interior furnishings were left intentionally bare. “Museum white walls and dark concrete floors act as neutral canvas onto which the owner applied colour through her selection of furniture, local artwork, and spiritual paraphernalia,” said the architects.

Imbue Design has completed another house in the vicinity of Capitol Reef National Park, which consists of three volumes clad in weathering steel.

Photography is by Imbue Design.


Project credits:

Structural engineer: Shen Engineering
General contractor: Fordham Construction
Gabion supplier: Hilfiker Retaining Walls
Cabinetry: Modern Union
Lighting fixtures: Lightspot Modern
Plumbing fixtures: Mountainland Design
Appliances: Mountainland Design
Fireplace: Fire Orb
Ceiling fan: Big Ass Fans

Floor plans – click for larger image

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