When the Metta Vihara buddhist organization commissioned Bureau SLA to build them a new meditation center in rural Netherlands, they asked for a building that would have as much space as possible, but that wouldn't be too comfortable - and they had a very limited budget. Leaning on the vernacular architecture of the region, the designers opted for pastel shades of corrugated steel as the main building material and a mansard roof, resulting in a massive, bright space that looks like a giant barn studded with windows.
Corrugated steel is great for durability and cost and the mansard roof helps to create the expansive space, which comprises 26 beds in 13 rooms. There is also a meditation hall, library and a dining hall. Wood on either end of the center takes the edge off the steel, plus it was salvaged on site from scaffolding left behind by the builders. Ugly joinery is disguised by a series of white-painted windows.
While most of the center has concrete floors, the meditation center has a bamboo floor and tall glazed windows that open out to the verdant landscape. Bare limestone was used for the structural walls, while environmentally-certified MDF was used for the remaining walls. The project has been well received by the locals, according to the designers, who overheard cyclists saying “This new cowshed looks really good, but why does it have so many windows?”