Patkau Architects design yoga retreat in Kootenay Bay

One year ago, on June 5, 2014, a tragic fire destroyed the Temple of Light at Yasodhara Ashram. For the yoga retreat and study centre in Kootenay Bay, BC, the past year has been one of great sadness and grief.

“Our community is still dealing with the loss. The Temple was our most precious place, and each person who entered it experienced a deep intimate connection to that space. It was more than a building, it was spiritual refuge for many,” says Swami Lalitananda, president of Yasodhara Ashram.

On the anniversary of the fire, the Ashram is honouring the original Temple but also celebrating new beginnings. They recently revealed an innovative new design for their Temple by the award-winning firm of Patkau Architects of Vancouver, and have launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise $2 million for its construction. The completion date is slated for the end of 2016.

Patricia Patkau comments, “It’s a project which is essentially one big beautiful room which is all about space and light. For us that’s pure architecture, and that’s the greatest delight that we have in the work that we do.”

The Patkaus aspired to use light as a primary building material. They accomplished this by creating portals of light that extend from the foundation to the skylight. Light enters the building from every angle, washing the interior surfaces.

“The new Temple is refreshingly innovative yet holds true to the original vision and purpose. It is a sacred space built to let light in and to send light out to the world. The Temple is a refuge where we can lift beyond doctrinal differences to rest in the oneness of Divine Light,” explains Swami Lalitananda.

The new Temple promises to be a luminous, welcoming space for the community and for visitors who travel to the Ashram from around the world.

Yasodhara Ashram was founded in 1963 by Swami Sivananda Radha. It is one of the most enduring spiritual communities in North America. Swami Sivananda Radha was a pioneer in the North American yoga movement of the mid 20th century. She had long envisioned a Temple of Light, which was to serve as sacred centre for all religions. The original Temple was completed in 1992, just a few years before her death.

The Ashram is dedicated to keeping this sacred space alive, in spirit and in structure.

“The Temple of Light is Swami Radha’s legacy. Even though the form of the Temple may be changing, it will continue to represents an important ideal that we think is vital to our small Ashram and to the larger global community. The Temple of Light is a place to find the Light within, and within your own beliefs. It is a sacred meeting place open to all, a symbol of hope and peace,” explains Swami Lalitananda.  

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