The Baha’i Temple of South America in Santiago, Chile, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects of Toronto was selected as the winner of the 2019 RAIC International Prize, by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).
Ever since its opening in 2016, The Baha’i Temple of South America has attracted more than 1.4 million visitors. With a design that “aspires to commonality within diversity”, the space holds meaning and peace for everyone. The building has major importance for the Chilean community, hosting community clubs, youth outreach programs, and children’s activities in partnership with public schools.
Designed by Canadian firm Hariri Pontarini Architects, the temple has nine wings, that form an oculus at the top. The structure is made from cast-glass panels on the outside, a new material that took four years of experimentation and collaboration with a Canadian glass artisan to refine. The interior is covered with translucent marble from Portugal.
At the heart of this building there is a belief and an aspiration: that even now, in the fractured 21st- century, we can respond to a human yearning to come together, to connect to one another, and to something that moves the spirit, […] The arced lines of the supple wooden benches invite people to come together, not as part of a congregation, but to congregate; to sit next to one another in quiet contemplation, sharing in the communal act of being. It was commissioned by the Bahá‘í House of Justice and is the eighth and final continental temple for the Bahá‘í Faith. But, central to its brief and its design is that it be a place of welcome, community, and meaning for everyone. -- Hariri Pontarini Architects
The prize, established in 2013, comprising of CAD $100,000 and a sculpture designed by Canadian designer Wei Yew, celebrates a “single work of architecture that is judged to be transformative within its societal context and expressive of the humanistic values of justice, respect, equality, and inclusiveness”.
The architects resolve a challenging and prescriptive program for a new Baha’i Temple near Santiago with a powerful form that creates a new landmark — a jewel — in a dramatic natural setting, […] During the day, the striking form is animated by the variations of light and shade on the building’s softly turning surfaces. At night, it stands like a lantern, softly lit from within. -- 2019 jury of the RAIC International Prize
The Baha’i Temple of South America was selected by the 2019 jury consisting of Anne Carrier, Stephen Hodder, Barry Johns, Eva Matsuzaki, Diarmuid Nash, Gilles Saucier and finally David Covo, professional Advisor to the panel. On their choice, the jury has stated that “the result is timeless and inspiring, a building that uses a language of space and light, form and materials, to express an interpretation of Baha’i philosophy and teaching that becomes universally accessible as a shared spiritual and emotional experience.”
The other 2 finalists included Edificio E, Lecture Building, University of Piura in Piura, Peru by Barclay & Crousse, of Lima, Peru; and Thread: Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center in Sinthian, Senegal by Toshiko Mori Architect, of New York, USA.