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Two years ago the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) demolished most of Vajrasana, its much loved retreat centre in Suffolk. After a huge redevelopment, the centre ceremonially reopened in May. Watch the ceremony highlights.
Singhamanas looks back:
“The London Buddhist Centre here in Bethnal Green, east London, had been getting busier year-on-year with most of our classes and retreats oversubscribed. We needed to increase the capacity at Vajrasana so that more people could experience the depth of practice being on retreat can bring.
Much thought, care and energy went into the planning, fundraising, and construction, including an architects’ competition for the redesign contract, won by Walters and Cohen. While being careful with money, we invested generously and intelligently and with regard for environmental considerations.
The new Centre has already received some rave reviews, including a glorious review in British national daily newspaper, The Guardian, and another in the journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Chintamani, a local Order member, created a glorious 3-metre tall Shakyamuni Buddha rupa for the shrine room, and the existing Akshobhya rupa was recast in bronze and placed in a new beautiful courtyard precinct. The original farmhouse has become home to a new permanent community who will host retreats and run the centre.
Fundraising for such a massive project proved to be a unifying endeavour for the LBC sangha. People raised money in all sorts of wonderful ways both individually and collectively, including the notorious (and delightfully ridiculous) 3 Cafés Challenge.
The new Vajrasana is now able to host up to 60 people - almost double the previous capacity - and is being used by other sangha groups as well as our own. We’re running more retreats than ever and most of our retreats are booked out. The whole project feels like a significant milestone in the development not just of the LBC but of our new Buddhist culture in general.
Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people contributed to make the vision a reality. Here’s a short film from Clear Vision, including interviews with Centre Chair Jnanavaca, project manager Maitrivajri and chief architect Cindy Walters.
May people benefit for generations to come!”
See all 17 short videos recording the project’s progress.
Read about the history of Vajrasana.
Visit the architects’ website for more pictures.
+Follow the London Buddhist Centre and Vajrasana on The Buddhist Centre Online.