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yoga retreat and study Center Temple of Light

A Question of Breathing

Patkau Architects

A life of many tribulations in Germany between the two wars led Swami Radha (born Sylvia Hellman) first to Canada where she encountered yoga and the spiritual culture of which it is part. After some time in India seeking a new reason for living, she returned to Canada, in 1957, setting up the Sivananda Ashram meditation center in Burnaby, near Vancouver. In 1962, Radha founded the Yasodhara Ashram center in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Poised on the steep banks of Lake Kootenay, the Yasodhara Ashram is located in an area of great natural beauty, which although tamed by the stewardship of man is still sufficiently wild to be the ideal place for a life of contemplation and illumination. Swami Radha succeeded in building her Temple of Light in 1992, three years before her death. When it was gutted by fire in 2014, fundraising started to build a new temple on the same spot to host the center’s ever widening activities as its popularity spread beyond Canada. The new Temple of Light was inaugurated last June, and is an architectural and structural masterpiece blending a sense of the transcendental with contemporary research into parametric design. Designed by Patkau Architects of Vancouver, the structure is at the same time simple and complicated. More especially, it is logical and highly practical. Rising from the concrete foundations of the previous building, it resembles a huge white flower, a white lotus that has emerged out of the lake amidst the trees. The key requirement for the architects was to create an evocative lightweight, low-budget building catering for the center’s many activities, but also one that could be built in a short timeframe. Hence the idea of the dome, a feature of the former temple, which now has been masterfully exalted both stylistically and in terms of construction technology. The Temple of Light’s flower-shape is made up of eight sweeping petals that give a concentric movement to the whole structure. It...

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