Pasithéa: Meditation Cabins in Central Portugal by Sofia Nikolaidou and Angeliki Tzifa

Pasithéa: Meditation Cabins in Central Portugal by Sofia Nikolaidou and Angeliki Tzifa

Pasithéa: noun [Pa-sith-e-a] in classical mythology one of the Charites, and the personification of relaxation and meditation

 -text by the authors

Pasithéa, by Sofia Nikolaidou and Angeliki Tzifa, is a finalist entry in the international architectural competition organized by Bee Breeders, regarding the design of a series of meditation cabins for the Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat center located near Oleiros, Portugal.

The challenge was to create a small replicable structure where guests could connect to the surrounding forest and have a personal, meditative experience with a therapist.

The proposed cabin consists of three interlinked parts:
a. the threshold, a semi-outdoor space for introductory meeting between the guest and the therapist
b. the main cabin, a private, intimate space where the therapy session takes place
c. the release zone, a fully outdoor meditation patio with specimen trees.

Drawing inspiration from the dramatic topography of the Serra da Estrela mountains, the inclined roof of the cabin follows the steep slope of the site. The exterior and interior wooden cladding blends naturally with the surrounding forest.

The design has a minimal visual impact on the area and becomes fully integrated into the landscape.

The large openings frame stunning views to the valley below, the surrounding forest and the sky above, blurring the boundaries between exterior and interior.

The design composition takes into consideration the specific topographical, weather and sun/shade conditions of the site. The proposed cabins are made out of sustainable materials that respect the existing context.

Their structure consists of a prefabricated metal frame, a wooden panel interior and exterior skin. The cabins can be easily dismantled, moved and installed. Each design component (threshold space, main cabin and outdoor patio) is structurally independent and can be placed on different levels according to the varying topography.

The series of meditation cabins is nested within the surrounding landscape, and connected by a network of pathways. These paths bring visitors through a sequence of spaces and choreograph different experiences; vista overlooks, outdoor meditation spaces, amphitheaters and rest areas. The thoughtful placement of the cabins within the retreat center enhances the richness of the visitor’s experience and their connection with the natural elements.

Pasithéa provides a unique experience for the Vale de Moses guests and therapists, enticing them to connect to nature and the place through their senses.

Project Info & Credits

Project Name:  Pasithéa: Meditation Cabins in Central Portugal
Design Team:   Angeliki Tzifa & Sofia Nikolaidou
Location:           Oleiros-Amieira, Portugal
Visualization:   Angeliki Tzifa & Sofia Nikolaidou
Design Year:     2020
Client:                Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat / Bee Breeders
Status:                Concept Design
Typology:          International Architecture Competition (Finalist Entry)

About the Team
Angeliki Tzifa and Sofia Nikolaidou are both architects, originally from Greece and based in the USA. Angeliki graduated from the University of Patras and holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives and works in New York City. Sofia graduated from the National Technical University of Athens, completed an exchange study at the University of Florence, and holds a Master of Landscape Architecture Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently based in Berkeley, California. They have worked for architecture and landscape architecture firms in Europe and in the USA, and have collaborated as a team on many projects internationally.