Fundamentally no bodhi-tree exists

Nor the frame of a mirror bright,

Since all is voidness from the beginning,

Where can the dust alight?

——Huineng, Zen Master, 638-713 A.D.


Approaching the end of life has always been challenging to us. It is usually both physically and spiritually a painful process. Zen Life Care provides a viewing platform for the mountainous landscape surrounding Asheville, North Carolina, where hospice patients could contemplate nature. This proposed hospice facility, designed by Clemson

University student Yanwen Xiao, asks and answers the question:” While medicine alleviates the physical pain, what could we do for the spiritual pain?”

The answer is to aid residents’ meditation on the end of life by offering them opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world, even within the safety and climate controls found indoors. Dramatic cantilevers that end in massive spans of floor-to-ceiling glass, as well as terrarium-like, glass-walled courtyards, give residents the opportunity to look out over vast landscapes. Interiors throughout are minimalist, and natural materials further emphasize the interplay of indoor and outdoor space.


The building design incorporates an Eastern approach to asymmetry to create visual interest, both nestling into landscape and peering out above it. Clad in unfinished wood inside, outside, and along its flat roof profile, the building harmonizes with its environment, while its sharp, intersecting axes are a dynamic contrast to the rolling landscape. By synchronizing with its environment first, and letting residents observe this relationship with the land, the Zen Life Care facility shows residents a path that they can use to consider their immutable unity with the world around them.


The art of Zen teaches humans the beauty of tranquility. It believes that spiritual power can overcome pain, suffering and even death. This hospice project is designed to be a tranquil environment that helps people to find peace in the last phase of life and appreciate the beauty in both life and death.