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Friday, May 30, 2008

London Buddhist Centre begins major building work

builders go to work on the LBCThe FWBO's London Buddhist Centre this week moved into top gear as the largest building project in its history really got underway. Over the next 8 months over UK £1,5 million will be spend transforming every floor of the building (all 6 of them!) into facilities worthy of the 21st century and the next 100 years.

Planning and preliminary works have been going on for well over a year and already ‘Phase 0’ has been completed – a major project in its own right. This entailed moving the offices out of the basement and up into ‘Bhante’s Flat’, which had lain empty for several years. Sangharakshita’s old bedroom, which he used for most of the 1990’s while living at the LBC, has been transformed into the ‘Sangharakshita Study Room’ and is now a self-contained space available for study or hire. The rest of his old flat has become beautiful new light and airy offices for the LBC team – a welcome new home after many years in the relative darkness of the basement.

carvers in India create the LBC's new fountainWork on the project is multi-facetted – as the builders smash up the old concrete flooring in the LBC basement, Aloka, in Norfolk, is working on a large new painting which will be the shrine backdrop in the new meditation room. And in far-away India, carvers are shaping a stone fountain that will bring a touch of natural beauty into the basement waiting area. This is scheduled to be shipped in July and installed in time for their opening in mid-September.

The biggest challenge of the project is to convert the basement into the new ‘Breathing Space’, the LBC’s flourishing programme for health and wellbeing.

Aloka shows off work so far on his new painting for the LBC's basementAn indication of the success of the Breathing Space project – even before its new premises are ready – is their waiting list, currently standing at 65 for their next MBCT course. They are looking at ways to offer more courses in response to the demand. As well as MBCT, Breathing Space will offer programs for carers – ‘Caring for the Carers’; also Relapse Prevention; Meditation for Depression, Meditation for Addiction, and Bereavement courses – plus training in all the above for future trainers and counsellors. Breathing Space looks set to add a valuable and much–appreciated dimension to the LBC’s work.

You can read recent articles about the Breathing Space project here - in The Times about addiction courses; in the Guardian about carers retreats, and a short BBC film about the LBC's work with people suffering from depression.

Finally there is a more general interview with Futurebuilders England, a UK government investment agency which has provided some of the funding of the project.

FWBO News wishes the LBC well on what is likely to prove a busy and demanding time - and looks forward eagerly to seeing the new facilities!

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