Located in North Georgia, our client had multiple goals. As an ecological design collaboration, we began with an extensive ecological assessment to understand the complexity of ecosystems we would be working to restore. The retreat center is situated on 216-acres, at a site that was clearcut by the previous owners. This mismanagement of resources led to extreme erosion, and impact on nearby plant communities.
Addressing complex site circulation, siting the 30+ cabins and community buildings, and creating ADA access on this mountain top were among our other directives. The plantings on site took inspiration from the surrounding forest, using native species. Additionally, there are orchards, an essential oil garden for the spa, kitchen gardens, medicinal and culinary herb gardens, and 7 miles of trails.
This site had multiple wells that had previously dried up. One of our main design directives was to address the growing needs for water.
The biological swimming pool was losing 1000+ gallons/day due to evaporation, and the retreat center was slated to host 100+ guests at a time. We designed an extensive 50,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system to be used for irrigation and all non-potable indoor uses, such as laundry and toilet flushing. Additionally, we designed an off-grid water system, fed from a 100-foot waterfall on site, via a RAM pump, to fill the biological swimming pool without taxing the aquifer.
Phase 1 complete, Phase 2 under construction
Featured images: biologically-filtered pond overlooking Mt. Yonah; crystal waters of biopool; hemlock with stone cairn; 100-foot waterfall; pools at base of waterfall; whimsy along the seven miles of trails; mandala hall side entrance; mandala hall; bald mountain cottage; bald mountain cottages neighborhood; mandala hall gardens; spa with essential oil gardens; forest studio.