Greg O'Donnell - Architectural Background
Spiritual Practices
Since first studying architecture I have been intrigued by the potential of buildings to have an emotional impact. I had the notion that if I was going to understand and embrace this in my design practice I would need to commit to a path of self awareness. This began in earnest during my final year of study when I started exploring spiritual teachings and incorporating meditation into my daily routine. It also lead to me to travelling to India each year for more enlightenment and eventually running meditation centres around Australia whilst working as an architect - a bit of a juggle to say the least! Before I knew it I became my spiritual practices started crossing over into my professional life as an architect. The boundary I had strictly drawn between the two was now becoming blurred and I was excited about the prospect of breaking new ground as a designer.

Meditation Loft
I established Architecture of Spirit in 2000 and received a commission to design a substantial home renovation. I didn't use any specific alternative practice in the design process but just knew that the spiritual part of my life was filtering through. The owners were delighted with my design centred around a meditation loft hovering above the main living area. They told me afterwards this was exactly what they had in mind but forgot to mention it to me!

I developed a contemplative design process to include visualisation, mind mapping and other creative tools as the basis of professional development workshops accredited by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the NSW Architects Registration Board. It amazed me how thirsty architects who attended these workshops were for a spiritual dimension in their work and received overwhelming positive feedback from them. Later I formed a collaborative group of "spiritual designers". We entered an international design competition for an Interfaith Centre as well as delivering the Eastern Spaces course at the Design Architecture and Building Faculty UTS.

Hindu Temple
An amazing opportunity came when I was asked to design a Hindu Temple in the western suburbs of Sydney. This involved a research trip to India and taking a leap into the world of vastu shastra, the Indian form of feng shui. At the time I was also exploring dowsing, sacred geometry, building biology and energy healing and was able to integrate these into my emerging design philosophy. The challenge was how to incorporate them all into a temple design and deal with the local residents action group that was against building the temple. The project came to a resolution and was approved by council without any objections being raised by the residents.

Sydney Olympics
Not long after, I embarked on a significant project that would stretch me like none other before. The Peace Pavilion for the Sydney Olympics encapsulated the essence of my evolving philosophy. The concept crystallised one day during a meditation and took on a life of its own over the next 4 years. It bought me into contact with the Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir, and many other amazing people. I also came up against some huge challenges which needed to be overcome and the project was completed in time for the games. The pavilion functioned as a venue for meditation, prayer, workshops or music recitals.

I have an ongoing interest in communities which has lead me to be involved in establishing Sydney ConFest, an alternative lifestyle festival, and Gudhara Holistic Sanctuary an eco-spiritual retreat centre. These have provided opportunities for me not only to enjoy living in rural environments and community gatherings but to experiment with sustainable building systems such as strawbale and mudbrick construction. They have also given me a closer connection with the natural environment and the global significance of climate change. I was able to pursue this further in working part time with the Climate Institute as the Faith-Climate Project Officer and received the opportunity of working closely with spiritual leaders in addressing their concern about the environment.

My inner and outer journey has now bought me to a point of clarity about architecture. When I design my aim is to embody the aspirations and values of my clients so that they feel real ownership of the finished project. The structure's form, spaces and ambience provide them with a profound sense of home. Back to About Us. See Testimonials.

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