moreQuestions & moreAnswers

 Answers to frequently asked questions about the new Europe Center construction project compiled from several talks with Caty Hartung and Geri Porkoláb over the course of June 2013 in the Europe Center and Karma Guen.


The EC always had too little space. How many rooms and dormitories will there be once it’s ready?

Once the new building is finished, we will have eight house units for residents, families and guests, both long- and short-term.

During larger events, visitors will stay in two large dormitories of 70m2 and 120m2 and several small ones.

On top, there will be four multi-functional rooms in the new building. Together with the current Diamond Room and a couple of rooms in the villa, they will change their function flexibly based on the need and occasion.

What is great is that the families will have much better conditions. There will be a dedicated playroom for children, an emergency kitchen in case people can’t eat with others, and several single and double rooms that can provide more quiet settings.

When can people move in?

We aim for January 10, 2015 and we all want to move in together in one single day! We did that with the first residents in 2008 and it gave the project a great kick for the start. We still have the best stories from those days.

Who will be living there?

The nature of the Europe Center calls for international friends with experience in our work around the world.

These are people who have lived in Diamond Way Buddhist centers, traveled frequently with Lama Ole and know different countries and continents. Often they are involved in some of our organizations or are lay Buddhist “traveling” teachers.

An international mindset and English skills are thus essential, but people also need to create the conditions to be able to live and make a living in the specific Allgäu region of South Germany.

How do you envision the exchange of experience between those who live there and guests?

It will happen like it already does now, only on a larger scale – through meeting each other and living together, through workshops and events like the Country and Transmission Weekends.

Groups will have great conditions to stay at the EC and work on a topic of their interest, bringing in the knowledge of the people at the EC experienced in that area.

How can one stay longer or even live at the Europe Center?

Lama Ole and Caty choose the people who live in the EC; any internationally minded friend can ask them.

The goal is also that the group of residents and long-term guests reflects the rich variety of the international Diamond Way Buddhist sangha. We wish that countries send to the EC their representatives to live there for some months, bring in their skills and gain new experience to take back home. The EC team is like a cocktail where each new person adds a new flavor. Never boring!

The new construction is not only about bedrooms and dormitories. What else will be there?

Most importantly the completely restored barn with its new large meditation hall and the so-called brasserie, our dining and meeting hall. It will truly be the pulsing heart of the whole center. People will gather there several times a day for meals and meditations and after spending time together, they’ll spread out again after their activities.

Behind the barn will arise three workshops for carpentry, statue filling and thangka painting.

When can we first meditate in the new large gompa?

The current estimate is already after the Summer Course 2014. Lama Ole will inaugurate the gompa during that course with all of us together.

How many people will fit into the gompa?

We really tried hard to create the maximum space for people in the 550m2 we have in the barn. There won’t even be storage for technical equipment at the gompa level, just floor space for people to sit.

That way we will manage to host even medium-size courses, like the 8th Karmapa course and center meetings, also in winter.

For the daily life in between events, we will have 200 cushions in the gompa and a 108m2 carpet for 200 people to fit on. The carpet is made in Nepal.

And the brasserie? Why this name and what it will be like?

A brasserie is by definition an informal restaurant. Its concept fits well to the atmosphere we try to achieve in our dining hall. Think a combination of a cozy café, a lively restaurant and, occasionally, a nightclub.

We designed it to work well for big and small groups alike. There will be large tables in the middle for a daily-life, family-eating-together feeling. Smaller tables on the sides will be used for more private set-ups with 2-3 friends or will be connected to longer tables. There will be also a cozy area with armchairs or sofas.

Thus this one common hall will provide many different corners and opportunities to meet and eat, work internet café style or just hangout with friends. Together with the terrace it will have a seating capacity of—guess how many—the magical 200 people.

Where will the furniture come from for the brasserie?

We want to use mainly old furniture there, like the classical Thonet Nr. 14 chairs, of which one can find plenty of second-hand, and try to build whatever else we need ourselves. We also are working on an easy electronic payment system for meals.

Who will clean and maintain all this?

We will do it all together. Occasionally we think about hiring a facility manager and someone for cleaning but we have to see after we move in.

How will such a big place be financed?

Donations, center membership and rent, as in every Diamond Way Buddhist center.

The membership is, in our case, I grow EC (europe-center.org/igrowec) that has made the running of this place possible until now. With more people coming and living here, more members will also appear. We trust this will compensate for the higher monthly costs of the larger premises. Anyway, no center can function without an adequate number of regular supporters, or members, so we have no other chance.

We will, of course, also have income from events. We don’t want to depend on the Summer Course, though. It has helped us to build up the Europe Center but after it’s finished we want to use the financial surplus again for other international projects.

What will happen to the villa?

The Europe Center villa, the symbol of the Gut Hochreute, will definitely be a lively place. Our wonderful small gompa will stay where it is. It has such a blessing to meditate there that we cannot imagine ever having anything else there.

Our high teachers, like H.H. 17th Karmapa and Lama Ole, expressed the wish to stay in this building as well. Two or three residents will probably also live there.

We will also have meeting rooms and office space in the villa and there is a plan for a library in what is now the architects’ office.

Where will the lamas stay when they come?

Lamas will stay either in the villa or in the small flats in the north wing of the new building. We say “flats” because they will have a bit more space and their own bathroom as opposed to regular guest rooms.

What about families? Where can they stay?

We plan on having three families living in the second house (the one next to the villa) with enough space, one family per floor. They will have rooms for children and share a family kitchen and dining room. Two guest rooms will remain in the second house as well.

We believe this setup will create a nice balance between the family privacy that is appreciated when raising children and the natural exchange of living in a center.

A second option for families is to live in the east wing of the new building, the one parallel to the trees and the ridge. We will see how many will fit in there.

How can one get involved in the project? Or as you say “Be part of it!”?

The most straightforward—and still needed—way to get involved is to give a donation towards the moreEC project and help us finish what we’ve started. By saying “be part of it” we want to simply inspire everybody around the world to use this chance to create a lasting connection with this historical project of Diamond Way Buddhism. Many thousands of people already joined in and the project is planned to be finished in a year and a half, so we also mean: “Hey, we are building fast; don’t miss it!” It’s as easy as going to www.more.ec.

Also, if you are a carpenter, you can help us installing the heavy wooden gompa floor.

Skilled joiners and cabinetmakers are also most welcome to join in the building of our own furniture in the guest rooms. It will take place between Summer 2014 and January 2015. Contact Caty directly at caty@dwbn.org, if you’d like to get involved.

We will offer more opportunities how to help us as we move forward with the construction.

Do we still need more money? (as of July 2013)

In short yes, we do. We kicked off the project famously at the 2011 Summer Course, raising one million EUR in the very first hour. We have since gathered 7.5 million in total, 5.5 million from our incredibly generous people and 2 million from the Diamond Way Buddhism Foundation.

There is still approximately 1 million EUR to go, though, which we need to raise in donations by the end of 2014. The current status is always on www.more.ec.

What will this money be used for?

The estimated rough costs at the beginning of the project were 8 million EUR. We came pretty close, but as is usual with complex construction projects, not everything can be foreseen, and some additional expenses arose as we went deeper into the planning and employed more specialists along the process.

Today we know the total will be approximately half a million EUR more, but we will also do more. There will be a larger basement, an outdoor kitchen infrastructure, more storage space, a better sound and light system in the gompa, making it suitable also for exhibitions, and many other practical details that will allow the new center to function better for all of us.

Won’t the center be too big? Or still too small?

Right now the Europe Center is much too small to fulfill all its functions and for enough people to live here in decent conditions. With more space the EC can continue to inspire the world.

We are building big, and in such a way that as many people as possible can feel at home while staying here. Future experience will show if the size was right but we are convinced it is. We took four years for planning and thinking through every detail, put in all the experience we’ve gathered over the years of building our centers and did the best we could.

Such a huge project is also a huge responsibility, who is behind the planning?

For the main architectural work we have hired professionals from Austria, the international award winning Dietrich – Untertrifaller Architekten.

From our side the main responsibility lies on Ronald, our architect from Hamburg, Geri and Caty. We provide client requirements, translate our lamas’ and your wishes and bring in the style, ideas and experience from hundreds of our meditation centers around the world. Tamas and Philip help us a lot locally at the EC and at the town.

Around this team is a number of friends, both sangha and personal, who come in as experts on specific parts of the project. One of them is, for example, Pitu from Budapest, a genius interior architect making sure even the smallest 12m2 guest room feels like a suite.

Where can one learn more about the project?

The most comprehensive online resources are the more.ec and europe-center.org websites. Also don’t miss the ECTV, our short video news, if you would like to get a quick impression of what’s going on.

But of course the best of all is to come to the Europe Center!

Europe Center - "Żyjące serce naszej pracy na całym świecie" - Lama Ole Nydahl

© 2011 Diamond Way Foundation | Europe Center website