“In Buddhism , Unalome is the visual image of reaching enlightenment. The spiral means our struggle with life, while the straight line shows that we have finally found harmony. Unalome is the “crown” of the Arahants, the enlightened saints. This is a powerful symbol of personal and spiritual quest.”
– Nishtha and Rohit, January 2018
Nishtha and Rohit moved from Delhi to Bir to start a new phase in their lives. A phase of emotional, physical and spiritual growth. They wanted to work on the land, grow their food, build their house and learn to create and live a lifestyle that was sustainable for them and their social and natural environments.
In December 2017, they asked us for help in designing their land and their house.
Their vision was simple. But the work was not easy.
“The best scenario for us is that we are able to create a green sanctuary and a complete sustainable eco-system and a habitat for birds, insects, and butterflies. A house for us with a sustainable food forest, which can support 10-12 people with a variety of food and produce, a guest unit that can accommodate 10-12 people for a comfortable stay in an earthen construction, and an activity hall with a capacity of 10-12 people for conducting Expressive Arts Therapy (EAT) and yoga sessions.”
Our role was to translate their vision into an achievable goal and design a process that could realize it.
The energy in this process came from both Nishtha and Rohit. Their love, faith, and tireless labour are transforming their dream into reality every day. Of course, with time and experience, the vision and the design itself is evolving.
The design of the landscape and the house has been done keeping in mind the five universal elements.
The earth element provides the life force. The biggest reward for someone working on the land is the food that can be harvested from it. Although the farm and the forest have been designed with a long term vision, the planning for planting was done so that some food can be harvested from the very first season. The food from the land provides grounding and meaning to the work being done on the land.
The house is built from natural material available locally. The earth used in the building the house comes from the land itself. Thus, the house is an extension of the landscape in material and form.
The water element brings flow in our lives. This element influences our mental and emotional selves. Working on the land is not easy, and the extremes of Bir make it even more challenging. The process was designed to evolve with the evolving capacities and limitations of the participants. Our goal was not just to create a healthy farm or a strong house, but more importantly, a healthy relationship between the farmer and the farm, the structure, and the home. There are pauses in the space and time of the design for mindfulness and awareness of emotions and intuitions and for them to guide the continuous process of learning and growing.
The element of fire evokes transformation and action. The collaborative work in this project has not only transformed the physical landscape which is visible in the forms of the house, the farm, and the young forest, but also the journey has been transformational for the participants, and even the people who perhaps doubted the audacity of the desire that propelled this vision.
The element of air influences the intellectual self and brings a connection between the physical and the metaphysical. The design of the landscape and the house tries to provide spaces and opportunities for contemplation and connecting with the inner self and the universal life force.
The element of space ties the action and qualities of all the other elements into a harmonic whole. The foundation of the design has been the interconnectedness and the relationships between what exists and what will emerge. The design tries to synthesize the visible and the invisible patterns of the space, time, people and their journeys.
This element also represents shunya or void which is total unity and harmony of all that is and that is not.
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In the period between 2018 and 2019, we spent a lot of time sharing ideas, working and learning from each other. The journey of Unalome has been a journey of evolution, as much for us as it continues to be for these two blessed souls and the land they are working on.
Nishtha, Vivaan and Rohit
All photos by Nishtha and Rohit