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Development of the coach house building in the grounds of Amida Mandala.
Location: Amida Mandala Buddhist Temple, Malvern
Latest Activity: May 10
Started by Jnañamati. Last reply by Kaspalita Jul 30, 2016.
Seishi House. Why Seishi? The former coach house is being converted, largely for my use, so I can practise as a therapist whilst I'm in the UK, and also have a more settled place to live. An identity…Continue
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I realise its been quite a while, well over a month, since I have provided an update on the renovation. This of course doesn't mean that there hasn't been progress or nothing to report. In fact having started this thread I have felt somewhat guilty for not having found the time to write something more regularly.
At this point in time, as the season starts to change, we have finally reached the stage of removing the old roof and wooden structure. Like with every stage of this renovation what we uncover leads to rethinking the next steps. Will also never cease to be surprised by how fragile this little buildng must have been. Most of the oak timbers and wooden purlings are like balsa, destroyed by dry rot. Dry rot attacks the lignum essential to the strength of wood and thrives on dampness retained by bricks and lime mortar. In short it relies on a certain set of conditions to thrive.
So the building is now quite exposed, but safely so. Most of the work in the proceeding weeks has been to create new stable footings and a strong waterproof floor. Now we need to put effort into reconstructing the upper walls that have bowed out of shape due to the sagging of the original roof. this came about because at some point someone had taken out one of two essential roof braces to create more head space on the first floor.
Over the last few weeks we have had various volunteers and different paid help on site. This in someways forms a Seishi House community in my mind, all of which is essential energy that contributes to the spirit of the project and the life in the building. Sometimes I see this as a dance, sometimes a drama, a narrative, a poem or a sculptural piece in development.
Below are some pictures. You can also find more pictures as well as ideas for various aspects of the building on my Pinterest board, the link for which is on the right of this page.
Finally, Seishi House will become the office for Amida Therapy, a new group therapy practice, and training unit based in Malvern. Caroline Screen, Kaspa, Satya and myself will all be offering therapy and some training under this umbrella. The common link of course is our affinity with Pure Land Buddhism and our training in a Buddhist approach to psychotherapy. You will be able to follow the progress of Amida Therapy by visiting the "Therapy Room" on the new Friends of Amida-shu website: http://www.friendsofamida.com/forums/forum/therapy-room/
Newly laid concrete floor
The old roof is off
Just wonderful to see how Seishi House is progressing - thank you Jnanamati for this fascinating blog. It's also very interesting to see just how well this project is unfolding seemingly in a very serendipitous way. The right people and resources have all turned up at the right time all along - largely thanks to local sangha member Richard Thorogood who is being extraordinarily generous with his time and expertise. Richard is project managing the scheme voluntarily, and he found Gordon the builder who is also highly experienced and committed, and Jnanamati whose idea triggered the project works very well with them both to very great effect. The latest marvel has been the building inspector, who could have been difficult but instead is completely supportive of Richard and Gordon's approach. That's another big hurdle cleared.
The Trust did have a choice whether to go down the usual contract route with an architect and builder under formal contract but we decided against this partly due to expense but also because we were impressed with Richard and felt able to trust him. This was quite a risky decision, but the result is turning out much better than we could have expected - certainly less expensive but also built with a depth of real care and love for the old building and traditional ways of building. I think this is the Amida way - to trust in friendship rather than to tie up with regulations, and it does quite feel like the Buddhas are behind us in this venture. Namo Amida Bu
Yesterday was a long day for Nod, Gordon and Alex. They finished well after nine o'clock last night in order to get the floor structure in. Theres a real sense now of how the space will be organised. What is striking as I take photo's this morning is how oddly shaped the building is! The back wall - facing roughly south - was built to the line created by the boundary wall, the west wall in line with the main house. This means that the internal space is far from square as you can see in the photo.
All adds to the character I would say. As Gordon remarks Seishi House is now beginning to breathe - I would say each day to breathe more calmly like in the process of meditation - more grounded and stable as s/he begins to trust that we have her/his best interests at heart. I find myself asking for Tai Shi Chih's creative energy so we can stay in tune with what s/he needs and can sensitively find the best way to adorn her/him.
Yesterday Nod and Alec, the carpenters, arrived on site. Last week there was a push to stabilise the wall by means of deep grouting a band of six courses of brick. This was so the floors timbers could be fixed. Thus there was a weekend for the mortar to set and strengthen. Setting the timber band (see picture) was quite a technical job given the sensitivity of the building. At this stage we need to be careful not to over stress the structure. The floor joists will go in today. Once in the cross braces will provide a good deal of strength and enable Gordon to start working on removing the roof. We are even beginning now to talk about details that will govern the look of the interior. Thursday will be the next day that I can lend a hand. I am looking forward to putting in some labour - a trench needs digging and material brought down from the driveway upstairs. I look forward to this work and contributing in this way to the project. It gives me the sense that I have already moved in and that I am breathing to the rhythm of the building.
Lovely update. And thanks Nathan!
It's great to see how the project is progressing!
Work progresses slowly but surely. Gordon is waiting on the drawings and specifications for the structural support work he discussed with the building inspector last week. In the meantime we continue to replace the oak timbers embedded in the wall with bricks to create a strengthening band around the building. Today Nathan, an occasional sangha member joined us to lend a hand. He has offered to come everyday this week which is a great help. Here is a picture of Gordon and Nathan peering through an upper window whilst standing on the scaffolding. Gordon doesn't disappoint in terms of what I have come to expect from him and explains all aspects of the work we are concentrating on today. The thread of story continues to unravel. Today we discuss whether the Zen way would be to render internally following the undulating shape that the walls or to sharpen everything to create clean straight lines. We agree the former and also talk about whether it might be possible to retain the two oak purlins that run the length of the building and leave them exposed. What I like about this process is that it unfolds in the relationships and discussions between the people involved. Whilst I have quite defined aesthetic preferences I find myself trusting that I don't need to impose any kind of vision because I can trust that the building will tell us what is right at each turn. I am also taken by the amount of hands involved in this project and what this will add to the completed restoration. The building is alive in many ways.
That is great news about the building inspector! So much better to have him onside! Good to see the building work progressing. Well done to all involved....
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