Message received from MICHIEL HAAS
The inauguration of LOTUS HOUSE on Friday, November 1 - 2019
[Note from the editor: the event on November 1 was a so called "soft" opening, the official opening will take place in June 2020 in the presence of International President TIM BOYD.]
Architect Michiel Haas on the right and Arend Heijbroek on the left
How Lotus House took off
The Chairman of the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden - the Netherlands, Arend Heijbroek, took the initiative to see how we could upgrade Arundale guesthouse, making it more attractive. In 2014 he presented a sketch with a proposal to convert the old building into a fully renovated Arundale guesthouse. Arend wanted to know what I thought of this idea.
Quite fast we both concluded that renovation wasn’t a fitting solution. Although in this proposal each room had its own bathroom, there would be fewer rooms, but the quality of the accommodation remained on a low level.
Lotus House in all its glory, and yes, the weather on Friday November 1 was typical Dutch, beatuiful autumn colors though
A new building
We decided to go for a new building. First we considered two floors. The regulations allowed us to do this and it would give groups the possibility to have a covered “walking” meditation place. This idea however turned out to be too costkly, so we decided for a one floor building, with the possibility to extend it with a second floor.
Since I’m retired and don’t have a firm where we can make drawings, as I had with the design of Crystal Hall-House, we approached Eva Stache requesting her to be the co-architect for this project. Eva and I, had lots of design sessions and her office made several drawings.
The philosophy of the project:
- the building needs to be sustainable and energy saving – we call that future proof
- the building won’t have major maintenance costs in the future
- the building should fit approximately where the old building was – the zoning plan does not allow anything else
- both buildings, Crystal and Lotus must be related to each other visibly – if one looks at both buildings, they must reflect the same design philosophy
ITC's Chairman Arend Heijbroek, standing near the glass doors, speaks to the invitees
When Theosophists are to construct a building, it must be fully sustainable. That is part of our philosophy, fulfilling our responsibility regarding the environment. This implies that the building is energy efficient. A lot of effort was put into this. The new construction is very well insulated, so that the heat demand is minimal. The building also has underfloor heating, which is pleasant and energy efficient. In principle, the heat is generated through two heat pumps, and in case of extreme cold they are supported by boiler heaters.
The building is also sustainable and durable when one looks at the building materials that are used. The green roof accentuates the sustainability also from the outside.
The finishing-touch is deliberately kept austere. The floor is waxed over the cement screed, walls are only coated. The less material is used, the more sustainable the structure becomes.
Accomodation is comfortable and straightforward, the view is superb
Building permit application
After it was decided which variant was going to be built, we applied for a permit. This application caused a number of different challenges:
- Although the plan did not differ much from the existing building, it did not fit within the zoning plan – it turned out that a mistake was made in the planning, and therefore much time and evidential facts were needed in order to correct that
- one of the neighbors of the Centre objected, this required an official objection procedure – luckily the Centre won the case
A small but practical desk for study, writing or reflection
Tender and construction
It took us some time to find the appropriate but also affordable contractor. We were supported by a calculation agency. The contractor we ultimately found performed the work beautifully.
The Centre considers itself very fortunate with this wonderful and sustainable new building. It is the result of a joint effort, many hardworking and dedicated people were involved in.
Crytsal Hall, Crystal House and Lotus House fully integrated and in full harmany with the breathtaking surroundiungs
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