Using the ancient architectural secrets of Vedic design, you could possibly transform your house into a holistic home.


Len Oppenheim considers himself a skeptic. So the Wall Street trader can't say with any certainty whether his headaches came to an end simply because he and his wife, Dena, moved from the suburbs of San Francisco to a rural farmhouse near Fairfield, Iowa. Or if his health improved due to the fact that the house on 14 rolling acres was built following the architectural guidelines of an ancient Sanskrit text called Sthapatya Veda, which suggests there's a correlation between human harmony and the orientation, spatial, and material elements of one's home.

"How much of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, I really can't say. All I can tell you is [that I find] I sleep better and wake with more energy," says Oppenheim, adding that a new sense of calmness has come over him in business, too. "I still have my ups and downs in the [stock] market," he says. "But I seem to find that the setbacks don't affect my mood as much."

Oppenheim's experience doesn't surprise Jonathan Lipman, AIA, chief architect of Maharishi Global Construction (MGC), the Iowa-based company that designed and built the Oppenheims' 7,000-square-foot Sthapatya Veda, or simply Vedic, home, along with hundreds of others across the nation. "Every architect has had the experience that some buildings foster quality of life and others seem to be failures - not because they don't function, but because they don't nurture the end users," says Lipman, who, along with a growing legion of architects and scholars, believes that by using the principles of Vedic design, it's possible to incorporate health benefits and good fortune directly into a home's foundation. And a growing number of architects and home builders are beginning to put these principles to the test in their designs for the average American family.

The blueprint for this challenge comes from the widely debated writings - thought by western Sanskrit experts to date back to 2,500 B.C. or earlier - of ancient Indian Rishi, or seers, who claim to have intuitively­ ­understood the laws of physics, the science of nature, and the cosmos, among other things. In these nonscholarly texts, they concluded the human body is somehow reactive to the movements of the sun, as well as spatial orientation. Over centuries of interpretation, the original Sthapatya Veda text - one of 40 dealing with everything from music, art, and philosophy to medicine and city planning - was modified and, some say, morphed by the Chinese into the similar but even less-scientific concept of feng shui.