Retreat — Architecture Competition by

‘Retreat’: Architecture Competition seeks ideas and projects Challenge to design a rejuvenating retreat held by UNI

5 min readDec 16, 2021
Fig: 1 — Life in cities is filled with hustle-bustle and every now and then, an escape from this routine life is essential.

Busy city-life

In today’s fast-paced society; everything we need is available at our disposal at any time of the day. Time, money, and progress, everything seems to be right where we are. Ranging from large metropolitan cities to small towns, this rush of life is the same in most places.

The kind of rush that begins on Monday and ends on Friday. Leaving a small gap of a weekend to get our head straight for the next week to come. And this is by far the routine of most of the people we meet in our life. Everyone is living day after day and weekend after weekend. Let that be for a job or education or any other endeavor. Everything is weaving its way into this rush of time. Behavior like this has become our newly-found reality all around the world. A kind of reality where most of these things bring us prosperity and growth, as we beckon our journey of life.

But when our lives are ticking by the clock, where is this rush leading us and what is it that we really need?

Fig: 2 — The natural landscapes in farmland areas are undisturbed. A rich heritage of castles and cliffs makes for an intriguing trip.

Take a breath

In moments of incessant and continuous movement, there are immeasurable times when we are lured towards the need of a spare moment. Not just a moment to run again, but to pause. Yes, pause. Something which people like us don’t remember doing often. There is an equal need for us to wind out of our daily life and enter into some retreat that will offer momentary peace until we begin again.

Because as much as it is true that one must keep working, it is also of utmost importance to stop sometimes and get back into the rhythm. A pause like this might seem fancy to us. But it’s just about taking time out from your life and spending it in peace. Experiencing such bliss requires us to go away from our usual life and into a totally different environment where we can recharge psychologically and physically.

How can this pause be brought into existence through architectural design that promotes relief and luxury?

Fig: 3 — The tourism industry is expanding its services by offering retreats to people in the heart of natural environments.

Brief of the Competition

How will one define a space of pause and revival? Space where one feels re-energized and revived to go back when leaving.

Brief: This challenge aims to design a retreat centre that helps in disconnecting people from their busy city life and connects them with nature, by offering relaxation and luxury spaces that would help them rewind.

Challenge is to showcase a strong connection with its context and its natural flora fauna while using its natural abundance to create a relaxing environment.

The idea of a retreat varies according to every single person but what remains constant is the concept of spaces that offer luxury and comfort while giving the serene and calm environment to experience the sheer feeling of calm.


Comfort: Understand the concept of retreat spaces and how they are created to provide comfort to the users.

Context: Study the site context, the limitations, and the scope that the site offers in terms of the flora and fauna and architectural heritage as the design blends with the landscape.

Engage: Explore the possibilities towards nature and the human connection by trying to break through the boundaries of architectural intervention. Try to create a space that goes a step ahead to provide a closer connection to the nature it resides in.

Therapy: Identify the key spaces that will help achieve the feeling of ‘revival and relaxation’ under the same roof.

Sustainable: Reduce the negative impact of design on the environment, by improving building performance, reducing waste, and ensuring comfort for occupants

The above objectives can be a point of beginning to conceive this design. Participants can assume their user group and contexts on the basis of their concept and design.


Fig: 4 — Site image
  • Ballyherragh, Clahane, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • Site Area: 5015 sq.m
  • Height limit: 6m
  • FAR (Floor Area Ratio): 1
  • Ground Coverage: 40%
  • Coordinates: 52°56'04.7"N 9°27'36.5"W

Ireland lies on the European continental shelf, bound by oceans and seas. It has a variety of geographical features like coastal mountains, hills, islands, bays, and lakes. The majority of Ireland offers diverse natural backdrops to low-lying plain terrains and some forests.

The site is located in the serene isolated areas of County Clare, Ireland. It is to the west of the Atlantic ocean and is proof that human settlements were formed here in the earliest period. Its history is rich with archaeological remains of ancient civilizations and religious ruins.

The site is at the seafront, surrounded by vast green farmlands on all the other sides. It is the perfect location for placing a retreat as it is encased by nature all around, with few houses seen at far distances.

Program outline

Retreat spaces mainly consist of residential spaces that offer a stay, recreational spaces in private and public, relaxation spaces like spas, halls, decks, and other spaces that offer a retreat. The challenge is to design this retreat for 50 people.

Space ideas:

  • Information desk
  • Lobby space
  • Relaxation spaces
  • Cottage/rooms
  • Open areas
  • Spa
  • Gardens
  • Recreational spaces
  • Observation deck
  • Common gathering areas.

The participants are expected to explore their creativity and imagination to create a new typology of spaces. The spaces listed above are just an idea for the kind of spaces expected in a retreat. All the participants are free to add any other spaces they want in their design by themselves.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Retreat | Hospitality Building Competition on UNI | About

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