Centers for religious and spiritual sanctuary have a clear mission: to provide a tranquil space for the world weary. But for architects and designers, the path there can take any form, really. A building needn't have a nave or minarets to qualify as a space for transcendental experiences.
Case in point: Windhover, a meditation enter designed by Bay Area studio Aidlin Darling Design for Stanford University. More akin to a Quaker meeting house than a church or mosque, the open, airy, 4,000-square-foot building features walls of rammed-earth (from soil excavated on site), glass, and strips of cedar arranged vertically.
The idea here is to connect Stanford University students and faculty with nature, and a the building centers on a lushly planted courtyard complete with a fountain. "Water, in conjunction with landscape, is used throughout as an aid for contemplation," the firm told Dezeen.
The Zen interiors don't hurt, either: Oak abounds inside, as flooring, echoing the stand of oak trees just outside the center; and hushed art galleries lit from overhead by skylights help lend the space a peaceful vibe.