Clarke County, Virginia, United States
600 Square Feet, Cost withheld at Owner’s request
Completed Fall 2007


The owners, both practicing Buddhists and avid modernists, were interested in creating a weekend retreat on a craggy stone ridge on a 5-acre lot one hour west of Washington DC. The natural setting was to be maintained for meditation while the structure doubles as a place to stay for family and friends. The owners’ interest in green systems inspired the project to follow the requirements for the LEED for Homes pilot program.

The program goal was to provide a low maintenance, energy efficient structure using experimental materials and techniques that blends with the site without being sentimental to the main house built 14 years earlier for $150,000. The limited space would require an open plan with upper level storage and built-in storage where possible. Beds and storage cubbies are built into the floor with retractable floor doors allowing for usable floor space during the day and retreat space at night. Architectural and in-house Interior Design Teams worked together to create a cohesive design approach that meets the owners’ modern and eco-friendly sensibilities.

The architecture of the yoga studio is a response to the site as well as to the intentions of the clients and how they hoped to use the space. The shape was inspired by the need for maximum spaciousness within the {zoning required} 600 square foot footprint, squeezing the Bathroom, Entrance and Laundry space to their smallest proportions while leaving the largest space for living. The curved shape of the space retains an organic quality, which relates to the views and provides passive solar heating. The space was to provide a spiritual beauty as well as comfort and flexibility. The simple design allows the structure, exterior surroundings, the interior furnishings and finishes to act as the artwork. The straight beeswax walls form blank canvases for the dappled shadows cast from sunlight through the trees outside while at night, the Artemide “Yang” light fixture projects color auras that can be altered based on moods. The sea blue glass mosaic tiles in the bathroom add a cool contrast that complements the warmth of the poplar shiplap.

The interior space extends to the exterior for living expanding the square footage of the structure and reiterating the clients’ goals of communing with nature. The end result of the interiors harmonizes with the natural and handmade setting while it conveys the fun-loving spirit of the clients. Native plants remain intact and feature Mountain Laurel, hardwoods, and over one acre of wild blueberries.

The yoga studio was created as the most efficient shape for passive solar design based on allowable square footage. The LEED Gold-certified home features curved structural insulated panels {SIPs}, a geothermal mechanical system and a green roof. Other features include:

• HERS index: 65
• Geothermal heat pump, Heat Recovery Ventilator, and in-floor heat using desuperheater with holding tanks for super efficient heating and free hot water for endless showers.
• TX Active pollution abatement cement – first pour in North America
• Locally reclaimed wood recycled from board-formed concrete with the use of a healthy release agent
• Maintenance free corrugated metal siding
• Beeswax and resin wall finish on no V.O.C. MDF
• Custom fir windows, doors and cabinets built 10 miles from the site
• LED track lights and dual track lighting at upper track for ceiling wash on reflective stainless steel ceiling panels
• Energy efficient appliances, and exterior kitchen element to remove excess interior heat in hot-humid summers
• Native, drought tolerant replanting of trees, living roof and groundcover.
• Beeswax and resin wall finish over no V.O.C. MDF sheathing
• Custom carb


Yoga Studio by JIM BURTON in United States won the WA Award Cycle 1. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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