Lighting and views are essential to any space, but they’re especially important when designing for a meditative yoga experience. Strategically placed windows provide privacy while bringing natural light indoors. A skylight gives yogis a calming view up into the forest canopy. SHKS Architects designed the retreat with a restrained palette of painted drywall, wood, and tile. Understated accents such as freestanding walls (with metal grommets integrated so the clients can attach yoga straps) and George Nelson Bubble Lamps help to define the space.
stone’s throw away from bustling metropolitan Seattle and surrounded by the waters of Lake Washington is the city of Mercer Island—a community known for its marriage of cozy island life and grand dwellings. Tucked within a 4-acre estate on the western end of the island is, appropriately, the very embodiment of upscale tranquility: a private yoga studio designed by Seattle firm SHKS Architects. Dwarfed by the tall fir trees that surround it, the restrained 500-square-foot structure is a stark contrast to the rich complexities of the clients’ main residence, a short distance away, whose maximalist interiors were designed by Kelly Wearstler. SHKS Architects, which had worked with the residents on the architectural features of the main house, was a natural choice to design a serene studio where the clients could meditate and practice yoga. A clear and logical organization of space was needed to fit all the programmatic elements— practice area, kitchen, bathroom, and sauna— into a tight footprint. Architect Jonathan Hartung explains, “The design was conceived as three zones: one for quiet contemplation, one for active yoga and stretching, and the third for refreshment.” Freestanding interior walls delineate the activity zones within a single soaring, gabled volume, while 13-foot-tall glue-laminated timber frames provide structural support. Sensitivity to the surrounding landscape drove many design choices. Not a single tree was removed during construction; instead the studio was tucked between existing trunks and elevated onto 10 steel columns and concrete piers to minimize excavation and protect the sensitive tree roots below. “We wanted to create a very simple form that stood above the forest floor and would not stand out,” Hartung notes. “Something quiet and respectful of the setting.” h
GRAY ISSUE No. TWENTY-TWO
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.