Dezeen Magazine

Algonquin Highlands by the lake

DesignAgency creates Ontario wellness retreat for psychedelic therapy

DesignAgency has released plans for a wellness centre or "psychedelic healing retreat" in Ontario called Dimensions Algonquin Highlands.

DesignAgency, an international design studio, will work with psychedelic wellness company Dimensions to create the retreat on a 45-acre plot three hours north of Toronto, Canada.

cabins with light and trees
DesignAgency has designed a retreat for psychedelic wellness brand Dimensions

The retreat will be a collection of buildings arranged around a woodland lake meant to facilitate psychedelic healing, a therapy practice that incorporates the use of psychoactive substances such as psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic fungi.

Structures on the site will include 17 private cabins with A-frame envelopes and glazing at the entrance and the lake-facing sides. There will also be a dining lodge and spa facilities as well as space for activities such as group yoga.

cabin interior looking over lake with setting sun
The property will have 17 cabins

The facilities have been designed to create a setting that's conducive to positive psychedelic experiences.

"In psychedelic-assisted therapy, 'set and setting' is a common term that refers to the mindset and the physical and social environment," Anwar Mekhayech, co-founder of DesignAgency, told Dezeen.

"If set and setting are calm, comfortable, safe and supportive, the psychedelic-assisted therapy experience is positively enhanced."

yoga room in A-frame building with windows to lake
The facilities will promote wellness activities

The design is intended to promote psychedelic experiences through traditional ceremonies and more modern practices.

Mekhayech described the prospective design as "at once minimal and luxurious", citing biophilic design as a guiding principle.

"Tactile natural materials, calming palettes and quiet spaces foster comfort and stillness," he said.

Each of the 17 cabins has skylights and picture windows that aid in the interface with the natural environment.

Other elements include window seats and private decks for each cabin. For materials, the studio plans to include limestone, white oak and pine, leather, wool bouclé and brass for the cabin interiors. Obasan mattresses, handcrafted in Canada, will be placed in each suite.

patio with hot tub and lake
The design seeks integration with nature to complement therapeutic practices

"Natural materials and soothing textures connect us to the earth, acting as reassuring grounding elements that feel authentic to the touch, and their natural imperfections juxtaposed with clean, simple forms are striking yet quiet," said Mekhayech.

"As interior designers, we often set out to create spaces that invite attention. This was a unique opportunity to design environments that inspire guests to focus their attention on themselves."

DesignAgency will work with Joel Loblaw on the landscape architecture. Features in the grounds will include a maze and "secret garden" as well as an extensive trail network through the forested property.

"The property will include an orchard, apiary and organic garden whose bounty will supplement other locally sourced and grown ingredients to provide the basis for the Retreat’s menus," said Dimensions.

cabins and night with interior light
The cabins will have simple materials and picture windows

The experiences offered will be in line with Canada's federal substance policies, which include some pilot program exemptions for psilocybin if used for therapeutic purposes.

Other interior design projects created specifically to improve mental well-being include a gallery for Himalayan art in Brooklyn by PRO and a psychiatrist's office with a garden in Uraguay. 

Images courtesy of DesignAgency.