Architect’s Vision

“I was drawn to this inspiring project for several reason. If we are to
truly support a saner future, we must work together to build the
essential facilities to replace the crumbling infrastructure of this
ever more bankrupt and dysfunctional society. Likewise to refuse its
brutal, deadening ugliness by incorporating beauty and conscious
geometry to enhance the functionality of public or consecrated spaces
such as these. Care taken in design and construction is repaid many
times over, from the pride and self-confidence of all those creating
the building, to the focused energies manifesting in the space,
especially with such an intense and crucial experience as birth. Our
arrival in this world must be managed safely and sensitively, but also
celebrated. Temples where once centres of learning as well as worship.
If we seek wholeness then surely a training centre for natural midwives
may also honour She who births all?


With this in mind, the groundplan uses the egg, as symbol of birth,
protection, femininity and nourishment. Anciently utilised in the shape
of amphorae and ice houses, the main stone chamber, the pool within,
and the overall footprint all follow this pattern, with other spaces,
library, kitchen etc nestling under the extended reciprocal roof. Using
traditional techniques, the Guadalfeo river stones are laid and
mortared with locally dug red clay mixed with chumbo cactus juice to
strengthen the bond. The main columns are from huge eucalyptii felled
right behind the site, some of them taking eight men to lift. The
center of the twelve meter reciprocal roof can be opened up to let the
sky and stars enter the central chamber directly, or closed for warmth
during the winter months.


When required the centre of the floor lifts to reveal the birthing
pool, formed in Tadelakt, a Morroccan waterproof, lime-based finish
burnished with natural waxes to resemble polished marble. Shaped by
experience to accommodate both midwife and birthing mother in maximum
comfort, the water is heated by the wood-fired burner in the adjacent
kitchen, whose flue also runs buried in a cob channel around the
perimeter of the chamber, a simple form of hypocaust. Opposite the
entrance is the hearth, both for heating and an altar to focus some of
the other activities this flexible space will be used for.

The library has large east facing windows for early morning solar gain,
and can accommodate eight students, the kitchen is open on one side to
the large shady veranda, floored with the plentiful local marble
offcuts, where meals can be taken in comfort, essential in this region
where summer temperatures can easily reach 48C. The students will live
and study together, sharing this space and the bounty of the
surrounding landscape, overflowing with fruits and herbs, all watered
by the ancient aquecia system which brings the high Sierra meltwater in
small channels built of rock and earth for miles across this stunningly
rugged terrain, filling the pool at the heart of this temple. A centre
which may serve as inspiration for many similar endeavours as we
reclaim responsibility for our own well-being, and lay these much
needed foundations for our children by helping them first draw breath
in peace, beauty and reverence.

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