I have just returned from another amazing Easter weekend spent with the monks of the New Camaldoli Hermitage, for whom we have designed the new buildings to replace the older ones now at the end of their life cycle. The day started before dawn with a sacred bonfire, around which the monks sang, dressed in their flowing white robes, while the sun rose with dramatic beauty into the sky and shone through the chapel onto the prior of the monastery. As we exited the chapel, the sun had fully risen to illuminate the epic coastal vista surrounding the monastery.
This year I was even more excited than usual to visit the Hermitage because construction on phase 1 of our work with the monks is almost completed. The new infirmary for the monks is comprised of 4 modules and clad in corten steel. The idea is for it to nestle quietly into the landscape, with a rainwater catchment reflecting pool at the entry, and an healing herb garden outside of the patient room. Since these monks have made a commitment to live the rest of their lives in the monastery, this infirmary is a vital addition to their community. They have made a commitment not only to god but also to each other, to help care for one another as they age. I love the modest material (rusting steel) used in an elegant way. The building is already visually like velvet and connected to the earth and surroundings like it has been there forever.
Below are photos I took this weekend, as well as the original renderings. The plantings have yet to be completed, so I will post completed photos this summer.
The materials that will be used for the monks infirmary, pictured above and below, are a mixture of corten steel siding and roofing as well as rammed earth site walls; all modest materials used in elegant ways.