A Warm Welcome to a Secret Stupa
A Warm Welcome to a Secret Stupa
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◩ System specifications
Stupa: A mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics that is used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa. Down a dirt road and into the woods in a Connecticut suburb, a nearly 100-acre property sits mysteriously gated off. What lies behind the gates we are unable to share in photos yet had to share with you to our fullest potential. You do not have to know much about construction to know that there is a common challenge: racing the clock. There are many things to be said about the struggles and outcomes created by construction timelines but this story doesn’t feature a single one of them. On the contrary, the story of the stupa in Connecticut is a labor of love, an entirely different challenge that requires patience and passion to create the perfect design. The story begins in early 2000 with a vision and beings taking shape in 2017 with the purchase of a sought-after property. Private, peaceful, and full of potential two lots were merged together and work began to bring a Buddhist community vision to life. Architecture plans at this stage show stairs building up to a landing with a perfect square structure built on center out of blue-tinted glass walls. Protruding from the center a stunning anda, a vertical gold tunnel for meditation, was planned as the focal point. Warmup was made aware of the Stupa project when contacted by the team considering all options in 2018. A cleared lot and a passionate team with truly unlimited potential would soon receive pricing from Warmup for surrounding snow-melt and primary indoor heat. This estimate would ultimately go head to head against geothermal heating in early 2019.
The decision to go with electric heating over geothermal was not lightly made. One team members’ passion for the solution was ultimately trumped by the reality that digging in such a rocky area would be too laborious. With this and many other major decisions made, ground broke on the stupa project. Unlike many typical projects, progress had little influence on design decisions – only perfection did. For this reason, design changes were frequent and sometimes demanding, specifically in the center of the stupa where meditation would take place. During a walkthrough post-concrete pour a harsh reality was brought to light: the center of the stupa was uncomfortably cold. The design which led you outdoors before accessing the anda with an open roof presented a heating challenge that demanded a solution since the anda would be the focal point and where the most time would be spent. Luckily, a possible solution was already on-site thanks to the creativity of a determined electrician. As a Warmup first, snow melting cables sold for the front staircase were installed for warmth inside of the stupa. Along the benches and floors, cable spaced at 3” was specified to provide 50 watts per square foot to the anda.
Up a large heated staircase and through two glass panes functioning as seamless front doors the experience begins as shoes are removed and slippers are offered. As feet meet the warm tile, slippers are politely declined and the effortless design flow carries you downstairs and into the structures golden focal point. Back through the glass, a door leads from the basement outside where you take a few steps in the cold before entering a tall circular dome. Beneath bare feet, warmth can once again be felt inside the anda where visitors gather at sunrise and sun set to meditate daily. Leaning back comfortably on a warm wall-wrapped bench and staring up, hundreds of lights create a captivating show. To accomplish all of the unique heating needs at the stupa project, multiple smart controls were utilized. Indoors, a primary heating system was designed to be controlled remotely via the 4iE smart wifi thermostat and My Heating app on both the homeowners phone and the property managers phone. Outdoors, the stairs and walkways were set to be controlled via a moisture and temperature sensor to keep them free of snow and ice but a different solution was necessary for the anda. The WSM-252W controlled via the Warmup WSM app was utilized in this area because it again allowed remote access and scheduling via the app. As a unique application, the stupa bench had to be used daily to deliver more than just snow melting. If you can dream it, we can heat it. Learn more about a four-season adult tree house in upstate New York here.
Find out more about the UFH products used in this project.
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