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Minimalism is a style that allows the very rich to transcend vulgar consumption. It also allows the monks in a John Pawson-designed monastery to live with nothing

By Mark Irving   October 2004

Who chooses to be poor? For us in the west, living in a time of plenty, the question invites an incredulous response. Poverty, like illness and death, is something we prefer to see – if at all – mediated by television, turned into a story about unfortunate things happening to other people. For the monks of Novy Dvur, however, poverty is a chosen way of life. On 2nd September, Novy Dvur, a mere pinprick set in the neat rolling hills of Bohemia and a 45-minute drive from the Czech beer capital of Plzen, was the centre of the architecture and…

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