Vishuddha Yoga Centre

This new yoga studio sits on a delightful street in a Conservation Area in central Oxford beside the Thames.

The highly sustainable building is designed, with the planners’ blessing, to be respectful of its neighbours but maintain the historic break in the terrace through its contemporary treatment and its finish in copper. The deep hue of the cladding makes it visually quiet rather than shouty. Although the splayed window surrounds in prepatinated copper do provide a contrast.

In spite of the site’s constrictions the interior accommodates all the spaces required for a building intended to be the hub of Oxford’s yoga community; upstairs a lofty, light, dedicated studio space, downstairs all the gubbins plus a large social space opening onto the rear courtyard, with robust finishes because the building, being in the floodplain, has valves to allow floodwater through should the Thames ever burst its banks here.

There is a strong sustainability agenda. The building is designed to be zero carbon for most of the year with as big a PV array as the urban site allows and two Tesla Powerwall batteries. It is extremely well insulated and airtight and has a capacious MVHR system.

The daylight is carefully modulated to prevent overheating. The use of plywood and bare blockwork has completely eliminated plaster and plasterboard and kept the embodied energy of the building low. What is neat about all this is that both the drive for low energy and the simple honesty of the building harmonise with the yogic philosophy of the charity which runs the building. It all fits.

RIBA South Award 2023, Oxford Preservation Trust Green Award 2022, Civic Trust National Award 2024

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