Contemporary Places of Worship
Transcendental Architecture – Contemporary Places of Worship _ Anna Roos
What makes a place of worship, a place of worship? How do architects create buildings that foster reverence, contemplation, and union with God? When the function of a building is concerned with subliminal matters of faith and transcendence, how on earth do architects achieve this ethereal task? How can architecture nurture emotional absorption rather than distant observation?
Inherent in the brief for a place of worship is the demand to create a powerful, transcendental experience for the user, a place of refuge and peace. This ephemeral demand requires sensibility and creative genius of the architect. Places of worship are complex and mysterious, you can’t measure atmosphere and you can’t quantify feelings. This makes the task of the architect more demanding, but also more intriguing.
This essay will analyze the elements architects have at their disposal to conjure transcendental places where worshippers can go and spend time communing with God, whether Jesus Christ, Allah, or Buddha. How have the architects modeled space, light, landscape, and materials to create sanctuaries conducive to contemplation and prayer? How is architecture used symbolically, whether a church in Lebanon or an alpine chapel in Austria, a temple in Chile or a Buddhist shrine in China, an Islamic mosque in Qatar, or a scouts’ chapel in Portugal? How do architects raise earthly elements to mystical heights? These complex questions pose an alluring challenge.
Coming Home _ Jaap Dawson
When I was eight, my parents finally let me have a dog. Before I brought him home, I found a large box that the neighbourhood grocery store had discarded. I placed a towel in it and set it on the kitchen floor under a work table. It would be a perfect nest for Rocky, the Boxer puppy!
But Rocky would have none of it. He didn’t feel at all at home in the box I had rigged up for him. Instead, he crept into a box not very much larger than he was, a box that had contained a toy truck sent to me as a birthday gift. Rocky chose with his body. He chose without thinking. He knew where he felt at home.
Even at the age of eight I realized I could learn from Rocky. He didn’t think – at least not the way humans think. He knew. He trusted his body and what it needed, what he needed.