Yoga Deva / Blank Studio
Architects: Blank StudioLocation: Gilbert, AZ, USA
Architect in Charge: Matthew G Trzebiatowski, AIA
Electrical Engineer: Don Witt Engineering
Mechanical + Plumbing: Kunka Engineering
General Contractor: Stokum Construction
Clients: Shosh + Billy Vergara
Project Area: 260 sqm
Project year: 2008
Photography: Bill Timmerman
Yoga Deva (deva is a Sanskrit word, meaning deity) creates an internal sequence of spaces whose primary impulse is to remove the visitor from the exterior visual environmental conditions in every way. Sited within a commercial condominium complex, the building is surrounded by asphalt parking, minimal planted islands of non-native decorative vegetation, and other buildings that are nearly indistinguishable from one to the next. This new internal environment offers an architectural and sequential chiaroscuro to the external strip-mall type reality and prepares the visitor for practice of inward meditation and contemplation.
The project exists as a series of vessels. The ancillary spaces (entry, retail, changing) are ordered and organized around the central yoga studio space. Various styles of Classical Hatha Yoga are taught at this studio, including “hot yoga” which is a practice that is performed in a space heated to 105 degrees F to improve flexibility and detoxification benefits.
Entry occurs in a space that is visually dark in contrast to the common Arizona exterior experience and no visibility to any other space is offered. The space is long, narrow and rendered in dark pigment, dark wood walls and dark wood millwork; including a communal seating area along the length of the eastern wall illuminated by warm-toned cove lighting. Terminating the long volume is an electric blue pigmented wall washed in cool-toned light that invites you forward. The western wall of the volume’s long axis is surfaced in aluminum gilding, which shimmers when lit from above, and offers soft, muted reflections of the visitors moving through the space. The space serves as orientation to the newly initiated and gathering for individuals before and after a class session.
In contrast to the entry space the main studio space is flooded with daylight; the interplay of light is calming and ever-changing. Translucent panels diffuse the light as the memory of the arbitrary position of the glazing in the existing, exterior mall shell is muted and edited. Above, the ceiling consists of three cylindrical, inverted vaults running the length of the main axis of the space. Valleys in between the vaults collect and order the building’s systems (lighting, hvac, fire protection, etc.) and allows for light to wash across the uninterrupted vaulted surfaces.