The architect will be speaking with the President of Yasodhara Ashram on one of the most beautiful new sacred architectural designs in Canada

One of my colleagues noted that when his sister-in-law was studying for her masters in architecture in Phoenix a number of years ago, the only Canadians on the syllabus were John and Patricia Patkau of Patkau Architects. I mention that not as a slight against our excellent architectural heritage (we’re the first to celebrate the strength of our Western Canadian scene), but as a nod to just how revered the quiet duo are around the world—and how lucky we are to hear direct from John Patkau this coming weekend.

I visited the Yasodhara Ashram last summer, a study and yoga retreat centre that’s in a remote spot in the Kootenays just outside of Nelson, B.C. It’s home to the Patkau-designed Temple of Light, and the experience was moving on both an intellectual and spiritual level. (I shared my experience in the May issue of Western Living.) Constructed from eight “petals” (each petal is also constructed from eight pieces) that were built off-site, the temple doesn’t have a straight edge in it: it curves up and around its visitors, to an aperture at its apex. It’s a highly technical design crafted through CNC technology and built across the water from the ashram on the shore of Kootenay Lake: Spearhead, one of the few construction firms which specializes in this type of design, happens to be right there.

The project came to be after one of the Yasodhara residents cold-called the Patkaus. They’d been fundraising to rebuild their temple after a fire damaged it beyond repair, and wanted to see if the world-renowned team was interested. They were—and the Temple of Light is the result of that first phone call.

The design of the Ashram was done by John and Patricia Patkau, the Vancouver-based architects who enjoy a world-class reputation for their stunning use of natural materials in their projects. (Photo: Daniel Seguin.)

Both the Patkaus and the team at Yasodhara refer to their design process as incredibly collaborative—and Yasodhara president Swami Lalitananda and John Patkau will be talking about their collaboration on Saturday, May 25 at the Goldcorp Centre of the Arts at SFU Woodwards. I’ll be there as a moderator—and hope you’ll join us for an enlightening afternoon.

Building the Temple of Light
Saturday, May 25
3:00PM – 4:30PM

SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre (Room 2555, Second Floor)
149 West Hastings Street
(enter via Cordova Street Courtyard at 149 West Cordova Street because of construction)
Adults: $15; Students/Seniors: $10