Prayer & Meditation Pavillion / Studio Tam associati

Architects: Studio Tam associati
Location: Khartoum, Popular Republic of
Client: EMERGENCY ngo
Site Engineers: Roberto Crestan (EMERGENCY ngo)
Program Coordinator: Pietro Parrino (EMERGENCY ngo)
Photographs: Raul Pantaleo & Marcello Bonfanti

The prayer and meditation pavilion is an integral part of the recently realized Cardiac surgery centre in Sudan, built by the Italian humanitarian organization, EMERGENCY NGO. The complex, planned and designed by Tamassociati architecture studio, is the only one of its kind to provide free health-care to patients in an extensive area within a ten million square km. radius and counting three hundred million inhabitants.

The Popular Republic of Sudan is a country that, over the past twenty years, has been scourged from numerous Inter-ethnic as well as Inter-religious wars.

The Arab Ethnic group constitutes 39% of the population and 61% of Africans; and in terms of religion, 70% of people in Sudan are Muslim, while the remaining 30% are Christian or belonging to other religious faiths (“Human Rights Watch”: Q&A: Crisis in Darfur 05/05/2004).

We needed to think of a place that could accommodate prayer, as customary in any place of health-care, so we had to deal with the difficult dilemma of thinking of a space that could host the spiritual complexity of this country.

floor plan

Our choice was not to privilege any specific religion, but to create a space that could accommodate the prayer and meditation of all faiths.

The outside hosts a large water pool, as a strongly symbolic image in this sub-Saharan zone. The pool creates a spiritual separation between the external macrocosm of the hospital/world and the ventral microcosm of the building formed by two unaligned white cubes, which are connected by a semi-transparent cover of palm leaf stalks.

The inner parts of the two cubes contain two trees, which render these profane spaces sacred with their presence, as natural elements inside artificial spaces.

We obviously had to seriously consider the Muslim faith, which is the religion of the majority of the Sudanese, along with the religion’s rules (ablutions, separation of men and women), but we decreased the contextual impact of those rules in order not to make them appear dominant. This was made possible by concealing all symbols and elements that are specific to only one religion. For example, the ablution area is nothing more than a higher water spray that, before entrance, allows for washing without connoting a strong religious symbol, and it is simply perceived as an element of the water pool.

Cite: "Prayer & Meditation Pavillion / Studio Tam associati" 24 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=18901>
  • Seb

    Very impressive, really really good, simple and pure architecture, a project focused on the essentials.

    Thanks AD.

  • http://www.talkitect.com Lucas Gray

    I really want to design a small pavilion. It must be an incredibly fun design exploration. I love the simplicity here.

  • http://bathe.wordpress.com jen

    This is so beautiful – it certainly makes my heart feel good! So glad to have come across your blog today.

  • francis

    All the elements are there, but, I believe that an outer skin (instead of painted white concrete throughout) of local stones, with just a smooth white interior would lift this project to another level.

  • cuzin

    simple yet powerful

  • gcobani

    simple……… eloquent……. dignified!

    Bravo!

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    This project really shows how architecture can ennoble, elevate, and achieve true inclusiveness. It is extremely interesting to me how, in the abstracting of traditional Muslim rite, the building actually follows so closely the canons of Islamic architecture. Here the marriage of form, purpose, and materials is absolutely outstanding.

    Compare these two simple boxes sitting in a pool of cleansing water with the vainglorious lunacy of the OMA Prada Pavilion or Zaha Hadid’s egotistical whatnot pavilion for Shanghai. This is purposeful, forceful, and emotive architecture that clearly works.

    To me, this is work on the order of Peter Zumthor’s religious architecture, perfectly thought out and adapted to its place and purpose. There is nothing that shines more brightly than humility in front of the world’s great religions, the world’s great problems, and opportunities such as this to use art for noble purposes.

    Congratulations and complimenti.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • Marcus

    Sometimes simple things can have a profound impact.

  • Opium

    Interesting to find that this countries have good comtemporary architecture,in fact the lack of great means makes them focus on what’s really important…A shame will have to bomb this to the ground when he invade sudan to “stop”darfur’s genocide and take over 7%of chinese oil importations.

  • http://www.projects3d.com stanislav

    very good idea, simple and clean – minimal art

  • http://www.raumangelegenheiten.de marco

    That is architecture. Simply beautiful !

  • dito

    love the space..very nice!

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  • majchers

    That’s IT. Congratulation.

  • Bo Lucky

    As pure as a form could be… and the soul should be… perfect bull’s-eye shot… congrats!

  • http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/ Ultra man

    Looks like a toilet block painted in white.
    Impressive how some architect can fall for this kind of politically correct form.
    Make it into a cylinder and you have Tadao Ando’s Unesco meditation room, which is nice, but smells like pee and wet cigarets.
    Boring…

  • JOPA

    simple, cumple pero falta aun mayor sensibilidad con un tema que en si, requiere mayor finesa para materializarlo…

  • xiaofengzi

    simple, clean colour and think that maybe more quiet environment, while the regular shape brings strong feeling

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  • Susie

    Like the building itself very much – clean and simple, but think the pool could have been carried out more nicely. Looks too placed in the landscape – the transition is too rough.