Contemporary Pagoda by Daniel Simmons



Toronto-based designer Daniel Simmons has designed a conceptual shrine for meditation called Contemporary Pagoda.


According to Simmons, the structure is intended as "a contemporary ruin - a structure that is raw form only; open to all; no heating, cooling or lighting systems, not conventionally habitable, but pursuing an interior space for meditation and contemplation."


The following text is from Simmons:


The work of this studio envisions a contemporary ruin - a new kind of open meditation building which recalls the ornate tombs, funerary structures, shrines, temples, pagodas and Japanese mountain gates of the East - yet attempts a contemporary brand of ornamentation.

In recalling the architectural ruins of antiquity, one observes how decay has altered those structures' relationship to the landscape, and consequently their visitors' experience. In envisioning a contemporary ruin, this work similarly seeks for visitors to experience the interplay of the built form with natural forces - but actively because of its design, not in becoming a relic.

These works don't seek to create a hard division against the forces of nature, but rather to frame and modulate inward-pushing elemental currents. Like the decayed ruin, these structures also become sunken into the landscape.

The work is also informed by the fact that the historical legacy of architecture given to contemplation, meditation, prayer, themes of transcendence and impermanence, with an enlightened relationship to the natural world - lies mostly outside the North American context.

Studio projects therefore propose the entry, so to speak, of a meditative architectural program in our Western, modern setting, using a contemporary design sensibility.

Posted on Monday January 5th 2009 at 7:25 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Mowgli

    that is terrific!… definitely eye candy (well for me anyway)

  • It could fit the idea with some refinement, smoothing of edges to make it look more congruent and cohesive. I’m not sure if it is supposed to look like an attached set of components sitting on top of the ground, in spite of its surroundings, as opposed to more of a unity and calmness with the setting– as pagodas embody to me.

    It’s an interesting concept and theme to launch from. Maybe more architects should think about what their structures would look like as ruins?

  • choadbag

    Not really sure what to make of this, and it took my quite a while to decipher the text that accompanies the project.
    Firstly, I’m wondering where it is? Is that Alaska?

    Secondly, is it a pagoda or a shrine for meditation? I’m not sure that people meditate in pagodas, and a quick rummage around on Wikipedia tells us that they were used as storage buildings.

    Also I’m wondering how it is possible to meditate there, as meditation usually involves long periods of sitting in places that are conventionally habitable.
    Maybe not if it’s a warm day. But if you’re in say, Alaska, then you’d probably want to wrap up warm before attempting to reach nirvana.

    I like the green men.

  • sc hu yl er


  • AZM

    This is a gigatic man squatting with legs crossed in the middle of nowhere!!

  • gaque

    that guard rail has got to go, sorry.

  • Hi Gaque and Choadbag ,

    Gaque: I admire your idealism – I’d like to see guard rails and other appliances ensuring that people do not plummet towards injury or total incapacitation disappear as well. However, I decided it might be good to have a small practical gesture within a fantastical daydream for a structure. And if I had been smarter, the configuration of wall planes in this work would’ve taken care of the rail.

    Choadbag: Whether or not people meditate(d) in pagodas is a good question. I personally see any place to sit down as having potential, at least if there is quiet. Seeing that my aim is to design things I don’t quite know how to describe yet, your idea to clarify my terms is a good one.


  • Sandy Cohen

    I am curious to learn Dan Simmons’ views on the general topic of religion, and more specificly on anti-semitism? My interest has been perked upon reading his novel Terror, and his character Goldner, the canned food supplier.

  • xtiaan

    in the plans it really does look like a guy sitting in the lotus position (on a small coffee table perhaps)
    *wonders if that was intentional*
    unfortunate placement of the staricase if it was, “inner journey” indeed…

  • I like it.
    The concept is good, the design has good geometry (I prefer the sketches more than the digital recreation) and looks like a giant playground.

    I am a meditator. The constructed environment is rarely a support but perhaps this unusual design could enhance concentration (haha). I appreciate the statue more so for the art and conceptualization of an idea that is very positive, meditation, but for meditation theres nothing better than being by a creek in the forest or a fire in the forest.