Our intent was to create a modern mobile temple a bubble within the city with the spatial quality to enable the subtraction of oneself from reality. The ambience and atmosphere needed to be evocative to promote a deep and personal experience.
When we were approached by Be Time with the challenge of re-purposing a passenger bus into a mobile meditation studio to circle the streets of New York City we were immediately hooked in. Not only are we great advocates for recycling the built environment to provide new uses and meanings to the city fabric but in addition this piece of architecture would be mobile and would be able to reach many audiences in search of their inner peace. The idea on its own its beautiful, an old bus re-purposed into an itinerant temple, it is current and innovative as it brings together a user and a provider through an app on your phone with scheduled timeslots and locations, its beneficial as it promotes wellbeing and calmness in citizens constantly exposed to the hustle and bustle of life in the megacity.
The challenge we had as designers was to honour that concept and to create the stage for it to blossom, with that in mind we set out by visualizing a space of contemplation, a peaceful retreat, a bubble within the city. Our aim was to infill the space with significations associated with the concepts of meditation, consciousness and wellbeing.
We softened the geometry of the bus by wrapping it in a continuous curved surface; the result is a space without right angles or hard geometries which promotes a smooth and soothing effect. The pattern on the interior lining derived from studies of the sacred geometries and aimed to take cues and inspiration from nature and the universe. We chose the “fruit of life” symbol as the base module which was then populated into a continuous wall pattern of fractal geometries. This symbol is said to be “the blueprint of the universe, containing the basis of design of every atom, molecular structure, life form and everything in existence.”
To overcome the spatial constraints of the bus we looked into ways of optically expanding it, we achieved this by placing reflective surfaces at both ends of the bus. The infinity effect created seemed rightly suited for the practice of meditation. At the far end of the studio we added a prominent light source, an oculus acting as a focal point; the third eye of centred consciousness guiding the meditation practice.
McKenzie, a Miami-based boutique design, build and custom fabrication firm partnered with AIDIA Studio to make the design vision come to life. McKenzie transformed the vehicle into a high-tech mobile studio through the custom fabrication of unique laser cut wall panels, and coordination of the design of all the audio and lighting components, ensuring all the complex design features came together harmoniously. Additionally, they built out all technicalities in the process: generators, extra-air conditioning, best systems to sustain paneling and LED structure.