The retreat center is located in a valley of the well-known Buddhist holy site: the Mount Wutai. It has a gorgeous and serene setting, surrounded by mountains with a stream flowing by on the eastern side and a line of apricot trees running across the sloping terrain.
The design is a simple square courtyard building being place on the sloped site. As it sits on the slope, the perfect square starts to shatter; openings from northwest and southeast are placed to allow the apricot trees to “pass”; the remaining parts of the square also settle on different levels of the site so they are broken and shifted. The result resembles the image of a broken square plate on the ground.
All the retreat rooms look into the serene courtyard, with corridors and stairways on the outer peripherals of the building. These sky lit communal spaces have occasional breaks at where the square has been broken or shifted, allowing glimpses to the views outside. The massive thick walls surrounding the building are veneered with local grey brick, with small openings to bring in the change of sunlight. On the courtyard side, rough architecture concrete is used, with punctuations of wooden individual balconies for each room.