Woodland Nature Retreat


In 2015 Escher GuneWardena began work on the masterplan for a 94-acre (38 hectare) rural nature retreat campus near Azusa in a riparian setting close to Los Angeles and surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains. The site, previously a monastery for a Vietnamese Buddhist community, has an existing meditation hall, an avocado grove, and several Bodhi trees (ficus religiosa) which is a species of fig also known by the name peepul and considered sacred in many religions throughout Asia.

The program for the project includes a multi-purpose hall, an art gallery, a bookstore, dormitories for short-term retreats, class-rooms and dining rooms, the phasing of which is being studied. The facilities will be used for educational activities centered around the environment, as well as for instruction in mindfulness. The natural setting with existing mature trees will be enhanced by walking paths, and a new botanical garden featuring Native American and Californian plants, as well as cultivated medicinal and herbal plants from various locations.