Rebuilding Amaravati

Sala Redevelopment Project 2021-2024

Update November 2022

After an initial delay, we finally obtained planning permission for this project. The demolition of the previous began in October 2022 and has seen steady progress since. A photo album of the demolition is available here.

Earlier updates

A page with the last updates of the rebuilding of the Sala and the kitchen is available here.

The long term plan to rebuild Amaravati has reached an important phase, which is the redevelopment of the Sala and the buildings in the workyard area near the back entrance.  

Following considerable input from the community to the design, the planning application was submitted to Dacorum Borough Council and we hope to have the planning decision around November 2021.

Under the proposal, the buildings marked red on this map will be demolished, and they include the Sala, the auxiliary maintenance and storage buildings in the workyard, the Bodhi House, and the Library. 

The new Sala will have 3 eco-buildings joined together with the Sala in the centre, the kitchen on the east, and the monastic eating place on the west.

The new Sala has been designed to provide ease of access for families and elderly visitors. The main entrance will be step-free and there will be a dedicated Parent’s Room next to the lobby area.  The toilets are also located within the building.  

The other significant improvement is the new one-way road through the service yard which connects the front gate with the new back gate located just in front of the kitchen. 

At the front gate, visitors will have an option to park their cars at the main car park as per normal.  The new plan also gives visitors an option to bring their cars closer to the kitchen, for dana and passenger drop-off, before circling the car back to park at the main car park.    

The other facilities in the service yard area and the workshop will be housed in the two new buildings along the one-way internal  road.

As indicated on the drawing, the new Library will be relocated to the east end of the current Publications’ Building, which is being refurbished. The Toilets at the west end have already been refurbished, and now include a Disabled Toilet

All the buildings of the Sala Redevelopment project have been designed to blend in with the beautiful landscape at the monastery.  The following computer graphic image shows the view of the new Sala behind the existing trees and hedgerow looking from St.Margaret lane.

The construction of the new Sala is expected to start in mid-2022 and the project will last for around 2 years.  

During that period, the Sala will be relocated temporarily to the Retreat Centre. Whether visitors will be able to come to that part of the Monastery depends on COVID-prevention measures.

Currently members of the sangha are offering retreats online, and that is expected to continue.

The next update will be when we hear about the planning permission.

Bojjh’anga Kuti 2020

‘The Nuns’ Nursing Kuti, also known as Bojjh’anga* Kuti, is now under construction (see picture below). This will be a valuable resource for supporting elderly Sisters and siladhara or anagarikaas in need of special facilities during times of temporary sickness or long term illness or disability. As with other new buildings, it is being constructed according to passivhaus standards. Shortly, we hope to be able to provide information about how those who wish can contribute towards specific items that will be needed for the final fitting out.

*’Bojjh’anga’ is the name of the list of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment that the Buddha recommended to be chanted in times of sickness.’

‘The Nuns’ Nursing Kuti, also known as Bojjh’anga* Kuti – August 2020

Nuns Area Planning and Construction work – 2018 -> 2022

Following on from the Aroga Kuti, it was decided that the next phase of construction (known as Phase 5c and 6a) would cover the nuns’ accommodation and communal buildings.

Update: As of November 2022, the Nuns’ Accommodation Buildings are nearly finished and the female community is expected to move in before the end of the month. You can see a time lapse video of the construction below:

Accordingly the architect worked with the nuns’ community on an overall design and layout for their area in 2018, followed by detailed drawings for two individual buildings, Amara Kuti and Nissoko. The first buildings are a facility for a senior nun and the Nissoko, a communal building, that will include a meeting space, bowl washing area, offices and a library. These choices reflect the EST’s and Sangha’s interest in providing for the needs of  the elders in the community and the nuns’ need for more adequate and useable meeting space.

Amara Kuti Going up

Construction work on these buildings started in April 2019 and is due to be completed by the end of the year. As with Aroga Kuti, these new structures are being been built to Passive House standard, giving low maintenance, highly energy-efficient buildings.

Summer/Autumn 2017 – The Next Phase of Planning

The Aroga Kuti was finished in time for the 2017 Winter Retreat which meant that the final fixtures and fittings were in place before Luang Por Sumedho came in April 2017 to lead the Open Retreat and attend the International Elders’ Meeting.  He stayed in Aroga Kuti for a month and was pleased with what the community has provided.

You can view a growing selection of pictures of the Aroga Kuti Construction work here.

Also during the winter, the new carpark which many of us will be benefitting from already, was built.  It is for visitors’, guests’, retreatants’ and residents’ cars. By 2018, the soil will have settled in the spaces around the car park so the shrubs that were cut down in order to build it can be replaced.

Next Step – Amaravati Long Term Plan (ALTP) Phase 5 

Phase 5, as it is called, is a bigger phase and includes the service yard by the back gate, part of which is pictured here:

Section of the current Amaravati service yard – a weak wall and an uneven base, a poor incinerator, and a heat hungry, concrete-roofed shower block. Similarly, an inadequate garage in background.

In addition, there are plans for a meeting room and library for the nuns to replace the current temporary building, below, known as Nissoko. It is in poor condition and is not large enough to provide a gathering place for the nuns’ community:

Also, included in Phase 5 is the rebuilding of the Stupa (which is not straight) and the creation of a path around it, to allow for safe circumambulation by candlelight on the three main lunar festival nights of the year, in February, May and July.

All of this will depend on funds being available. Donors have generously come forward to offer significant contributions to the Nissoko building and the path around the stupa, so the EST is able to make tentative steps towards the practical building stage.

From the Drawing Board into the Monastery – Aroga Kuti (2016)

On January 3 2016 there was a groundbreaking ceremony for Aroga Kuti, the first of the buildings to be constructed under the aegis of the long-term plan.

Detailed information about the building’s development and intended use are available by following the link or clicking on the image. There was also a long article published in Looking Ahead in the Autumn of 2015

Building works are due to start on January 11, 2016 and last until October. The inside will then be fully fitted out in time for Luang Por Sumedho’s scheduled visit to Amaravati in May 2017.

Following this, there will be a pause to review the process so far. The next areas due to be considered are the nuns’ area and service yard behind the sālā.

The Long-term Plan (2013)

Internal planning and consultation by a dedicated team of people made up of Sangha members, lay residents and experts from outside the monastery started as early as 2011.

The results of that consultation was a long-term plan to redevelop the site. This was made public in spring 2013.

Conceived as a systematic approach to replacing the inefficient original wooden buildings built in 1939 with more sustainable and environmentally friendly structures, it is seen as a long-term project to be implemented in phases over several decades, dependent on funds becoming available.

On Saturday 27th July 2013 the monastery hosted an Open Day for the local community. Among other things, people had the opportunity to view a scale model of the proposed building-plans and display boards explaining the project, shown below. A selection of these boards, along with the model, has been placed on semi-permanent display at the monastery, in the lobby entrance to the Sala.

The scale model – Amaravati model long term planning
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery – May 2017