The Battle Within
The Battle Within is an innovative, evidence-based program that provides a powerful healing experience for Active Duty Military, Veterans, and First Responders who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. The Green Warrior Society is working with The Battle Within to design a retreat facility in Missouri according to Living Building Standards. The project, from construction through operations, will be an opportunity for skill-building, education and support for the re-entry of these remarkable individuals back into everyday life.
Program: Therapeutic Retreat, Masterplan
Location: Kansas, MO
Program Size: 36,000 SQFT
Site Area: 116.6 Acres
Client: The Battle Within
Project Team: Jason F. McLennan, Dale Duncan, Jason Wilkinson, Joshua Fisher
Patterns + Principles
Prospect + Refuge
One of the key principles that guided design concepts was the idea to thoughtfully place each building in a location that relates to its function in The Battle Within journey. Active spaces are placed in barns out in the open meadow overlooking their respective zones and given ample views of the surroundings. Nestled down out of sight are the half-buried Warrior’s quarters and ceremonial circles. These buildings are carved out of the hill and provide inward views to the fire circle and forest, taking advantage of the privacy and contemplative feeling provided by the inward-focused buildings.
The design concept for the major programmatic elements thoughtfully relate to the The Battle Within day-by-day program philosophy and sequence. Taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the site, open meadowlands and protected forest fingers, the day-to-day experience of guests involves a curated journey through the protected and shaded forest, over streams via bridges, and then out into the open meadow as they make their way to daily activities in the meadow barns. These transitions between dark and light, through forests and over streams, help reinforce the meditative aspects of the program’s philosophy.
Nestled and carved into the meadow hills, the Warriors’ Quarters will be contemplative spaces that allow Warriors a place of prospect and refuge with views inward to the fire circle and the forest edge nearby. Designed to integrate seamlessly with the landscape, these buildings will be almost invisible from above and only reveal themselves upon arrival. Aiming for LBC Petal Certification, the Quarters will aim to be Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Water, functioning as the cohort sleeping rooms, living room with kitchenette, and an interior room for program mentors.
The Activity Barn
Situated in one of the quietest and most distant meadows on the site, the activity barn will be one of the last spaces program attendees discover. Here, the Warriors will discover one of the most important aspects of the program – the Leap of Faith – where Warriors literally jump to a free fall from atop a 40-foot pole as a trust building exercise.
In addition to the enclosed Leap of Faith, the activity barn will include a climbing wall and flexible programmatic space for a variety of events and functions.
As the main communal space for the program, the Warriors’ Hall is the first building guests will visit and experience. The hall includes dining, living areas, kitchen, and offices for the program and will serve as the threshold to the rest of the property. Situated at the gateway to the site, the barn will provide an expansive view over what will become a restored prairie and new forest buffer.
The Hall is aiming for Living Building Challenge Petal Certification and will showcase the deepest level of green building. The design is inspired by the barn typology and will include a 100-foot rammed earth wall that features the gateway entrance to the Warriors’ property.