There’s probably no one perfect calming space to suit everyone. However, certain colours, textures, materials, sounds, and use of space, can facilitate a state of tranquility, neutralising stress and anxiety. British architectural designer, John Pawson, known for his minimalist aesthetic, was one of eight architectural firms commissioned to design a holiday home in the UK as part of Living Architecture, a project that offers the public the opportunity to live in a house conceived of by the world’s most talented architects. Taking cues from Japanese houses and Benedictine monasteries, Pawson created Life House on a sprawling landscape in mid Wales, intended to “immerse the visitor in a zone of extreme calm”.
Danish handmade bricks were used to construct the somber Life House; black for the exterior and pale grey for the interior. Polished light terrazzo floors, set against the grey brick, and Douglas Fir timber ceilings, combine to induce feelings of peace and calm. Soft natural lighting through large windows plays off the light interior palette, creating the illusion of the room awash in pale pink, a shade know for its tranquil qualities. By combining natural materials in neutral, calming shades with simple design, you can emulate this effect in your own home, even if it’s just a designated area in a room in your house.
Next, identify an activity to help you completely relax and disconnect in your calm space. Pawson dedicated each room in Life House to a particular purpose. There are separate suits for bathing, listening to music, and a library bedroom that is filled with a broad collection of literature. There’s also a submerged chamber where guests are invited to lie down in darkness. A soft place to lie with your eyes closed and some soothing music is all you need to take yourself out of the stress of the outside world.
In our own lives, the most important thing to remember is to make space and time for ourselves regularly, even if it’s just a few minutes.
Photo credit: John Pawson