Sub-Saharan Africa is home to an enormous number of religious adherents – within which there is extraordinary diversity in religious expression. Iconic buildings serving a religious purpose are found throughout the continent, such as The Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family in central Nairobi or the Hare Krishna Temple in South Africa. What is evident is that architecture that hosts religious gatherings makes up a key part of the urban fabric of sub-Saharan African cities and that in a lot of cases, religious structures go against the grain – leaving aside or tweaking classical models in favor of a unique architectural approach.
Religious Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
Though lesser known, the Hungarian city of Veszprém is one of the oldest and most important cities in the country. Designated as the European Union Capital of Culture for 2023, Veszprém boasts a longstanding history, visible through its evolving, yet well-preserved architectural monuments. In fact, one of the first notable observations as one walks through the city streets is its eclecticism and layers of historically diverse buildings, that sporadically arise. Despite the difference in styles and architectural languages, they collectively tell the story of the county and its spiritual and political relevance. Its pedestrian-friendly streets, many parks and public spaces, connect the Veszprém monuments, as one delves into a historic promenade.
Near the center of Helsinki, Finland, in the Töölö neighborhood, one can find the Temppeliaukio Church, an unusual-looking Lutheran church nestled between granite rocks. Approaching the square from Fredrikinkatu street, the church appears subtly, a flat dome barely rising above its surrounding landscape. An unassuming entrance, flanked by concrete walls, leads visitors through a dark hallway, and into the light-filled sanctuary carved directly into the bedrock. The exposed rock walls earned it the alternative name “The Church of the Rock.” To contrast the heaviness of the materials, skylights surrounding the dome create a play of light and shadows and a feeling of airiness.
The church is the result of an architectural competition won by the architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. Their original solution was recognized not only for its creativity but also for the respect it showed to the competition’s goal: “to include the organization plan for the whole Temppeliaukio Square, taking into attention that as great part as possible of the rock outcrop of the square to be preserved.” The winning proposal achieves this by embedding the church inside the rock and placing parish facilities on the edges of the hillock. This article explores the story behind the Temppeliaukio Church both narratively and visually, through the lens of Aleksandra Kostadinovska, a professional photographer from Skopje.
The mosque; the Islamic holy place of prayer, carries a distinct structural characteristic and identity. It is a serene and spiritual architecture that brings individuals closer to their faith and divine entity. Prophet Muhammad's original house in Medina (in present-day Saudi Arabia) is believed to be the first place of prayer, and served as a model for early mosque architecture; a mud-brick structure with living quarters on one side of an enclosed rectangular courtyard. Soon after, the allocation of open spaces in the center of towns where Muslims could gather and pray became more frequent, resulting in several spaces of worship with a universal spatial characteristic: their orientation towards Mecca.
The design process of the mosque started with a single enclosed geometric form, reinforcing the idea of spirituality and seclusion. Soon after, this simple spatial prototype evolved into the first formal hypostyle mosque, known for its vast prayer hall and series or arcades. Variations of this model saw the first mosque in Medina, known as the Quba Mosque (622 CE), the Kairouan Mosque in Tunis (670 CE), and the Umayyad mosque in Damascus (715 CE), some of which incorporated column details from ancient Greek and Roman architecture. However, the role of mosques evolved throughout the years from just a place of worship to an architecture that helps in re-establishing the values of Islam and offers contributions to society, including educational, civic, and ceremonial.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the new American Buddhist Cultural Society Temple, also known as the San Bao Temple, has broken ground in San Francisco, California. Located on Van Ness Avenue, the new six-story facility will include a community center, a Buddhist shrine, and a meditation room on the upper levels, along with three levels of private dormitories for visiting monastics and volunteers. In the center of the building, a light-filled atrium offers additional amenities, such as a public art gallery, bookstore, teahouse, and community gathering hall. The temple is expected to open by the end of 2024.
If there is any consistent factor in his work, says Pritzker-winning architect Tadao Ando, then it is the pursuit of light. Ando’s complex choreography of light fascinates most when the viewer experiences the sensitive transitions within his architecture. Sometimes walls wait calmly for the moment to reveal striking shadow patterns, and other times water reflections animate unobtrusively solid surfaces. His combination of traditional Japanese architecture with a vocabulary of modernism has contributed greatly to critical regionalism. While he is concerned with individual solutions that have a respect for local sites and contexts Ando’s famous buildings – such as the Church of the Light, Koshino House or the Water Temple – link the notion of regional identity with a modern imagining of space, material and light. Shoji walls with diffuse light are reinterpreted in the context of another culture, for instance, filtered through the lens of Rome’s ancient Pantheon, where daylight floods through an oculus. Ando’s masterly imagination culminates in planning spatial sequences of light and dark like he envisioned for the Fondation d’Art Contemporain François Pinault in Paris.
“We Are Just Beginning to Explore the Possibilities of Shaping Space”: In Conversation With David Hotson
David Hotson (b. 1959) founded his New York City-based practice David Hotson Architect in 1991. His projects – houses, loft residences, penthouse apartments, and galleries – are known for their remarkable spatial and visual complexity. His Church of Saint Sarkis in Carrollton, Texas is especially distinguished for the luminous and sculptural qualities of its interior space as well as the exterior grade high-resolution digital printing on its west façade. Earlier this year this appealing work won the US Building of the Year award by World-Architects.com. Hotson obtained his Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and earned his Master of Architecture in 1987 at Yale.
In the following interview with David Hotson, we discussed the architect’s design process, focusing on making concave spatial voids legible and primary, being inspired by Byzantine architecture and his favorite building ever built, what structure he considers the most important work of contemporary architecture, what makes his award-winning Church of Saint Sarkis special, and the use of space and light as the essential tools in creating architecture as a figural void and ultimately an art form.
Designed by Adjaye Associates, the Abrahamic Family House is a landmark project located in the Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The center encompasses three separate houses of worship: a mosque, a church, and a synagogue, along with spaces for gathering and dialogue. First announced in 2019 following an international competition, the interfaith complex was officially inaugurated and opened to worshippers on 16th February 2023. Access to the forum and guided tours will be available to visitors from 1 March 2023.
After two weeks of voting in our 14th edition of the Building of the Year Awards, our readers have narrowed down over 4,500 projects to just 75 finalists across 15 categories, casting over 100,000 votes. This year's awards celebrate the very best in design, innovation, and sustainability from around the globe, with the shortlist featuring an exceptional range of projects, from a house in a favela to cutting-edge cultural centers and innovative public spaces that are sure to impress. As a crowdsourced award, we are proud to say that your selections are a true reflection of the state of architecture, and this year's finalists are no exception.
Using only natural light to document English cathedrals can turn into a logistical and technical challenge. However, Peter Marlow's photography has resulted in a remarkable series of iconic spiritual sites whose contemplative atmosphere is rarely accessible to others. Looking east with the camera towards the nave as the dawn light streamed through the main window opens a purist and mystical perspective to the time when these sacred structures were erected.
The Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle, designed by Steven Holl Architects, has been honored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with its Twenty-five Year Award. AIA’s award is conferred on a building that has set a precedent, stood the test of time for 25 to 35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance. The Chapel of St. Ignatius finished in 1997, reflects the ideal of the Jesuit practice, a religious order of the Catholic Church, in which no single method of worship is prescribed. Instead, the sect recognizes that “different methods helped different people.” That idea is reflected in the Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University’s main chapel, where differences in light unify to support the worship and ritual needs of the university community.
Projects in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia Among the Winners of the III Abdullatif Alfozan Award for Mosque Architecture
The Abdullatif Alfozan Award for Mosque Architecture has honored seven awarded mosques in its third cycle under the theme "Mosque architecture in the twenty-first century", evaluating their unique architectural concepts as well its connectivity with local communities.
It is easy to show cool images of adaptive reuse. The contrast of living history and control over it makes for dynamic visuals. But there is a deeper meaning to adaptive reuse. Architecture embodies humanity and humanity changes, so our buildings change.
Islamic architecture has long been acknowledged as one of the most significant and influential typologies that translates the religion's core teachings and beliefs into structures. One of the most striking characteristics of architecture in the Islamic world is the focus on interior spaces. Whether it is a methodical organization of interior layouts to make use of natural light and ventilation, or the intricate detailing of ornamentation through carvings and paintings, the contrast between exterior and interior is palpable. However, one particular architectural feature defies the norms of modest facades, and stands as a strong visual statement of the presence of Islam. The minaret's distinctive structure strengthened its presence as a focal point, guiding people towards the religion's holiest space. In this article we will explore the reason behind the use of minarets and how its function has evolved culturally and architecturally.