Episode 9: The Urban Monastery by Jonny Ryley

Jonny Ryley shares his conception of an urban monastery, an answer to the question: “what creates a space of stillness and contemplation in the spaces we inhabit?”

“Architecture shapes us in more ways than we know, and it plays a huge part in who we are as people. With each step in my architectural education, a beautifully simple realisation that I had during the summer before my studies began became ever clearer to me. This was that the physical, tangible existence of the built world has the ability to truly impact an individual’s life – not just in an overly conceptual way, but in a profoundly meaningful and spiritual way. At around the age of 14 or 15 – which happened to be the time my faith in Jesus became something I really started to explore for myself, having grown up in a Christian home – I decided I wanted to become an architect. A few years later, after getting my acceptance letter to study architecture at the University of Nottingham in the U.K, I had that very realisation, that architecture had the ability to really shape people. And in realising this, I discussed with a best friend of mine during that summer how amazing it would be if you could design it in such a way that people could physically and spiritually feel the presence of God. And from that moment, that became my goal for architecture school and beyond, to design spaces for people to encounter the presence of God in one way or another.”

The visuals Jonny includes with his essay are vital to understanding the scope and meaning of this work. We highly encourage you to read along as you listen to Jonny read his piece here.

Jonny Ryley was born and raised in a Christian family the U.K., where he was part of a local baptist church and was baptised in 2017. He is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art, London, having completed his Masters in Architecture there. He worked in New York City at COOKFOX Architects for a year before his Masters and is in the process of relocating back to New York to get married to his fiancée, Genny, who he met at Hillsong Church NYC.

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