is a studio for architecture, planning, and design based in Saint Louis, USA.

Mom’s Retreat

The retreat creates two distinct meditative spaces through its relationships to the landscape.  The first, a floating wooden deck measures the falling forest floor below. The second, a small, dimly lit enclosure sinks through the ground. Both intensify a spiritual experience of the place.

I discovered that my mom was going to a secluded spot in the woods to escape from her daily routine. She found an old and unusually large dogwood tree, where she sat on a section of log, her “prayer stump”. A treeless space on the other side of the small hill suggested possibilities for additional retreat-like spaces. The situation suggested the spatial model of a boat: a small, protective, introspective space of a boat’s hull below an expansive floating space of a boat’s deck.

interior looking toward light chimney and entry

Enclosed “Hull”

The hull is a 7 feet wide, 8 feet long space half-sunken into the earth.   Three small windows frame views into the landscape. A light chimney filters light into the space. The stucco CMU walls of the hull continue into the ground, embrace the earth and the visitor .  The light chimney and the wood-framed, tin roof complete the enclosure.

back side

Floating “Deck”

The bisecting deck is cantilevered over the landscape producing the floating, experience. Two trees puncture the deck forming a threshold to the end. At the end you are standing approximately 10’ above the ground with no apparent clue as to how the deck is supported.


A number of restrictive construction conditions influenced the design and the assembly methods.  The site is isolated with no electricity, so materials had to be  pre-cut and then assembled on site.  I devised other creative construction techniques to construct the project on my own.  Concrete, mortar, and stucco were mixed on site.  Cost was kept to a minimum by using common materials such as CMU, wood, and tin.

Location: Marbury, Alabama


Construction Completed: 2000

Cost: $1500(Some material reused. Labor not accounted for)

3 Responses to “Mom’s Retreat”

  1. [...] couple of days ago, you common Forrest Fulton’s Lace Hill suggest for Armenia, as well as tonight you share a firm’s thought for a [...]

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  3. [...] few days ago, we shared Forrest Fulton‘s Lace Hill proposal for Armenia, and tonight we share the firm’s idea for a retreat [...]

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