Posts Tagged ‘Vedic architecture’

House Beautiful: living in a remarkable Maharishi Vastu retirement home on Saltspring Island, BC

April 25, 2013

House Beautiful: The gift of constraint
Grania Litwin / Times Colonist
April 18, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s the home of Vincent and Maggie Argiro, natives of the States who had heard about the friendly island and decided to build a remarkable retirement home there.

Based on an ancient form of Indian architecture — called Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, or Vastu — the home is designed to increase occupants’ health and happiness.

It certainly feels calming and harmonious the moment you enter through the lotus flower gate, cross a lavender-edged terrace and step into the two-storey glass foyer.

The L-shaped building is reflected in an L-shaped pool, and the entire house is oriented to the cardinal directions. Light floods into every room from east and west, through interior and exterior windows, as well as skylights — perhaps one reason the house is supposed to boost clarity and creative thinking.

“A vastu house is said to be a fortune-creating house too,” said Vincent, who seems pretty creative already.

He is a world leader in three-dimensional, advanced visualization software design. His Vital Images Inc. — now a division of Toshiba Medical — produces medical-imaging software, a diagnostic tool used in hospitals worldwide by radiologists, cardiologists, oncologists and other specialists needing to explore inside the body.

In the couple’s home, everything from orientation and proportion to property slope and relationship to nearby bodies of water is governed by vastu design. By great good fortune, soon after arriving on the island, they found an ideal 3.8-hectare site with panoramic views stretching from Mount Baker to Black Tusk in the Garibaldi Range 132 kilometres away.

Designer Everest Lapp said it was a very demanding project. “Siting the building was difficult, as it had to be within a certain envelope with very particular dimensions. Everything was very detailed and exacting.

“In some cases, we had to move a wall a quarter of an inch. Even the rockwork was redone at one point. I’d never done a fireplace like this before, with a high window in the back. I didn’t even know it was possible.”

There were compensations, though.

“The Argiros* are amazing people with so much depth, and although their expectations were very high and it was super-challenging, creating this house has enriched my career,” Lapp said.

“I sometimes wondered if it would come together, but there is no doubt in my mind that Vincent can do anything he wants. He is very, very bright.”

The 3,800-square-foot home has a feeling unlike anything she has experienced, Lapp said. “There is an energy — something ethereal about it.”

Vincent knew a designer called Everest would be up for the challenge.

“She is a former national mountain-biker and snowboarder and I heard there was no slope she couldn’t go down,” he joked, adding he likes challenges, too.

“I read a book years ago with a quote I’ve always remembered: ‘Constraints are gifts to creative people.’ It’s been my maxim and guiding principle all my life,” said the innovator, who is still an active consultant and mentor to other entrepreneurs — and an electric-vehicle buff who has a Tesla Roadster and a Model S, both of which were the first of their kind in B.C.

“In this architecture, we had to follow the rules exactly, the tolerances were very small, up to 1/16th of an inch,” he explained. “But we could be very creative within them.”

Maggie said their island builder, originally from Switzerland, was very precise, too, and really got on board.

“This house was absolutely the toughest I’ve ever built, and I was up there more than two years,” said Robert Huser.

“A lot of the stuff you just don’t see … all the floor joists, for instance, had to be ripped down. A 2×10 is actually 2×9.5, and we had to make them 2×8-and-three-eighths. But the Argiros are great people and it was cost-plus [pricing].”

The owners used as many local craftspeople and materials as possible, said Maggie, who designed the glass catwalk with Lapp. It’s made of kiln-cast, textured glass fabricated in the Vancouver Glass Studio of Joe Berman on Granville Island. A totem beside the stairs was commissioned from First Nations carver Doug LaFortune, depicting eagles and sea otters.

“There is a great spirit in this house,” said Maggie, noting that during construction, there were many coincidences. Time and again, just when they needed something, it would appear: A container of wood, originally headed for Japan, suddenly became available; a barn full of rare wood was discovered at the 11th hour.

The house has hydronic in-floor heat, a forced-air system used mainly for ventilation, a high-efficiency heat pump for hot water and a backup propane generator.

“We need the generator when the power goes out; it can be out for three or four days up here,” said Vincent, and 80 per cent of the lights are LED, which use 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

The eco-friendly home is filled with small details, such as a small deck with outdoor shower off the master bath, and a ladder to a rooftop perch. “It’s my cubbyhole,” Vincent said. “You know the old song Up On The Roof? Well I have that bug. I love sitting up there.”

Hanging on the stairway wall is a massive marble slab from an area of southern France famous for Paleolithic cave paintings. “There are amazing iron deposits near Lascaux and when I saw this piece, I immediately thought: That is nature’s painting and it should not be cut up for countertops.

“It weights 800 pounds and hanging it was the most dangerous, demanding part of this whole building.”

Vincent devised stainless-steel rails for it to sit in and a framework of aircraft aluminum bolted onto a reinforced wall.

Maggie’s favourite haunt is the kitchen she designed.

“For years I worked in a postage-stamp-sized kitchen,” said the former home economist, who worked for Continental Mills, testing and developing recipes. “So this is wonderful.

“My main thing is workflow and efficiency. You come in with groceries, put them in the refrigerator, wash and prep them here, chop here, cook here, choose the dishes here, serve here. It works beautifully,” she said, moving clockwise around the area. Her island includes a baking centre with tin-lined drawers.

The commercial fan above her Wolf range was tricky to install at the large window, but she wanted to enjoy the view and check on her outdoor Italian pizza oven.

Vincent is most proud of the “smart home” technology he programmed himself.

“The house has a whole set of rhythms that adjust the lights and thermostats every day, every season. This nervous system shuts down all non-essential power at night, or when we’re on holiday.

“Almost all the wires go dead. The whole house is de-energized, so radiation of all kinds drops dramatically when we sleep, and the house idles at less than 500 watts.”

Vincent explained they took their time finding a place to retire in their mid-50s and toyed with the idea of building a home in Minneapolis, “but it never felt right. Then we heard about Saltspring, this magical community of talented and special people.”

They love the island and their peaceful new house.

“It’s as if there are no walls, no ceilings,” said Maggie. “You feel that nothing stands between you and nature.”

This demanding Saltspring Island home brings out the best in creative design and artisans. The Argiro home is the 5th video, Saltspring Lotus, in a series called, House Beautiful, published by Debra Brash, April 20, 2013 for timescolonist.com.

© Copyright 2013

*At the time of this article Vincent Argiro was a trustee of Maharishi University of Management. Vincent and Maggie Argiro were major donors of M.U.M.’s Argiro Student Center.

MHN Interview with Jeffrey S. Abramson: Vedic Architecture Changes Way People Feel, Work

May 6, 2010

MHN Interview with Jeffrey S. Abramson: Vedic Architecture Changes Way People Feel, Work

Headline News, National, News, Today’s Headlines May 5, 2010

By Anuradha Kher, Online News Editor

The Harvard Business School/Harvard University Graduate School of Design recently presented a case study: “Design Creates Fortune: 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard,” on the 200,000 square foot LEED Platinum and Fortune Creating Architectural/Vedic-designed office building co-developed by The Tower Companies and Lerner Enterprises of Rockville, Md.

The presenters challenged students to consider the fact that human capital costs were higher than energy costs, and, perhaps it made more business sense to focus on improving the efficiency and productivity of the employees by employing ideas like Vedic Architecture.

Jeffrey S. Abramson, Partner, The Tower Companies’ talks to MHN about why he believes Vedic Architecture is the wave of the future and how it can also change people’s lives by being implemented in multifamily buildings.

MHN: What is Vedic Architecture?

Abramson: Vedic architecture is architecture in accord with natural law. Natural laws are those governing intelligence found in nature, which uphold life in perfect order. It is electrons and magnetic fields and all those impulses of nature that uphold everything in nature. Everything that happens in nature happens by the functioning of natural law. This architecture connects individual life with cosmic life using the same intelligence that governs nature. These expressions like you see in Vedic architecture are expressions you find in almost all cultures, in all systems of architecture, since the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

MHN: What are the principles of Vedic architecture?

Abramson: There are about 100 principles that make up Vedic architecture. Orientation—states that the front entrance should face east; how the building is sited on the land—which is called Vastu; determining the center point or nucleus of building; water placement etc. Taken in isolation these principles don’t have much of an impact, but taken together, they create the ideal building.

We incorporated all the 100 principles in the office building. We didn’t try to fool Mother Nature.

MHN: Why is this form of architecture important?

Abramson: Buildings affect people. And if buildings can affect people, they can affect their behavior, their outcomes and their success. Buildings can elevate life and if you can figure out those architectural principles that can uphold the life of the occupant, make them more successful, brighter and smarter, it can be very useful. The built environment can enhance productivity of the company and collectively this is going to have huge ramifications on the health and economic development of the U.S. Reduce pollution; create new jobs and new technologies. It’s not an intellectual concept, its not like there’s a sign that says you are about to experience something. But people come in and say they feel peaceful and energized. It has nothing to do with style, it can be any style the architect chooses.

MHN: Where does Vedic architecture come from?

Abramson: It is about 5000 years old and is associated with India but in its absolute essence, where we are not talking about interpretation etc, these are really just principles found in nature. It could be like saying physics is Austrian or German because we associate Einstein with it. So in that sense, it transcends culture. It was however, enlivened, and somewhat maintained in India.

MHN: How many building that incorporate Vedic architecture exist today?

Abramson: There is 500 million dollars worth of Vedic construction around the world. There are some very small multifamily buildings that incorporate it as well but it so happens that the office one is the largest right now. The next goal for us is to incorporate it in multi-housing. In fact, we now have the opportunity to build about 2,500 apartments at Metro station. This is the direction in which real estate is moving.

MHN: Are there any additional costs involved?

Abramson: There is a small cost—about 2-3 percent more, which is about 10 cents or so per sq ft. It is a minimal cost to make a massive contribution.

‘Green’ learning in sustainable classrooms

April 23, 2010

Local News April 23, 2010

‘Green’ learning in sustainable classrooms

Maharishi University of Management constructs an off-the-grid academic building for sustainable living majors

MATT MILNER Courier Staff Writer

Matt Milner/The Courier Construction workers had to move carefully to avoid excessive damage to the tree trunks that will be a signature element in the new building for MUM’s sustainable living program. The school held a ceremony at the site on Thursday to mark Earth Day

FAIRFIELD — Builders and backers of the new home for sustainable living majors at Maharishi University of Management say nothing like it has been attempted anywhere.

It’s easy to believe them.

The construction brings together four basic philosophies. Three are focused on environmental impact and resource demands. The fourth is, as all new buildings at the college are, based on Vedic concepts. It’s a tough combination to pull off.

When complete, the building will be completely off the grid for electrical power, climate control and waste removal. The goal is creation of a building that meets the university’s needs for classroom and office space while demonstrating concepts the students learn inside.

Dr. David Fisher, director of the sustainable living department, thinks the building will help draw students. That has not been a problem for the program, which opened in 2003 with six students and now has 80 sustainable living majors. He called it an “incredible environmental building.”

It is not large as academic buildings go. That’s intentional.

“We didn’t want to make it too large because we’re trying to do so much,” Fisher said.

Right now the site doesn’t look markedly different from any other building under construction. Stud framed walls are the exterior on two sides. The other two are still open. The biggest clues that something different is going on are the nearly full-sized tree trunks that form part of one hallway. Others lay around the site, ready to be raised.

The trees being used are aspens. They are fast-growing and were harvested from a farm dedicated to sustaining its population. A slight sheen and a lack of bark are the only things that show they have been processed for construction. Builders said the trunks have strength similar to steel when they are maintained instead of sawed into boards.

Dal Loiselle, the developer and construction manager for the site, has worked on “green” building sites for 21 years. He said the costs are not all that different from those involved in traditional construction, provided the effort is made from the start. Adding environmentally friendly traits to an existing project can be expensive.

“It entails commitment, basically,” he said. “It’s just a matter of having the desire and doing it.”

Loiselle emphasized that none of the technology being incorporated is new. It’s off the shelf stuff that any builder can use.

The completed structure will be LEED platinum certified and meet the requirements for building biology, Vedic architecture and the Living Building Challenge. Students will have access to the roof and walls to study the concepts they learn in class. Monitors will track every shift in temperature, humidity and environmental change, wired into a website people can check from anywhere in the world.

Thursday’s ceremony was somewhere between a groundbreaking and a dedication, tied into Earth Day at MUM. It’s the 40th Earth Day, noted Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy. He expressed the hope that the building’s edge-of-the-envelope attempt today will be standard in another 40 years.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com


%d bloggers like this: