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Sacred Space: The Latest Architecture and News

Campus Sacred Spaces Are Changing

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In a time of global unrest, rising intolerance, and, some might argue, increasing secularization, is the campus chapel relevant anymore? Might it disappear altogether? As it turns out, campus sacred space appears to be transforming to play a more important role as many universities focus on educating their students to be more globally aware.

Architect Trey Trahan on Building Sacred Spaces for Connection in Design and the City Podcast

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National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum, Rendering by Design Distill. Image Courtesy of reSITE

In this episode of Design and the City - a podcast by reSITE on how to make cities more liveable – Trey Trahan, founder of Trahan Architects, discusses the importance of designing spaces that foster human connection and encourage self-reflection. With ecology and the poetics of space as core values, the work of Trahan Architects focuses on creating impactful cultural venues and in this podcast, Trahan argues for a design centred around elevating the human experience.

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Adapting The Sacred To Be Profane

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.

Architecture Classic: al-Nouri Mosque / Nur ad-Din Zangi

Islamic architecture has been perhaps one of the most culturally significant typologies throughout history. Not only do the buildings themselves serve as centers for community and social services, but their designs reflect Muslim beliefs and morals, and reveal the rich history of nations in the Middle East.

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What Is Sacred Space?

We are in an unholy mess. It is a pandemic, with insane politics, and centuries of hideous racial injustice screaming out humanity’s worst realities.  Each day reveals more disease, more anger, more flaws in our culture than anyone could have anticipated.

This season’s inscrutable fears are uniquely human. The natural world flourishes amid our disasters. But architecture is uniquely human, too.  Architecture’s Prime Directive is to offer up safety. So in this time of danger, it is a good idea to think about the flip side of so much profane injustice and cruelty, Sacred Space? Architecture can go beyond playing it safe and aspire to evoke the best of us, making places that touch what can only be defined as Sacred.

What is Sacred Space? Whether human-made or springing from the natural world, Sacred Space connects us to a reality that transcends our fears. The ocean, the forest, the rising or setting sun may all define “Sacred”. But humans can make places that hold and extend the best in us beyond the world that inevitably threatens and saddens us. Architecture can create places where we feel part of a Sacred reality.

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Sacred Architecture Models Crafted from Hand-Cut Paper by Michael Velliquette

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via Michael Velliquette

American artist Michael Velliquette has produced his latest series of paper-based artwork, creating intricate paper models of sacred architecture. His hand-cut paper shapes are assembled into complex forms “akin to sacred architecture and three-dimensional mandalas.”

Prioritizing formal symmetry, balance, and order, the models aim to evoke “a sense of visual equanimity” through a restrained palette of neutral or monochromatic tones.

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Is Religious Architecture Still Relevant?

Some of the greatest architectural works throughout history have been the result of religion, driven by the need to construct spaces where humanity could be one step closer to a higher power. With more people choosing a secular lifestyle than ever before, are the effects that these buildings convey—timelessness, awe, silence and devotion, what Louis Kahn called the “immeasurable” and Le Corbusier called the “ineffable”—no longer relevant?

With the Vatican’s proposal for the 2018 Venice Biennale, described as “a sort of pilgrimage that is not only religious but also secular,” it is clear that the role of "religious" spaces is changing from the iconography of organized religion to ambiguous spaces that reflect the idea of "spirituality" as a whole.

So what does this mean? Is there still a key role for spirituality in architecture? Is it possible to create spaces for those of different faiths and those without faith at all? And what makes a space "spiritual" in the first place?

Riku Ikegaya Constructs a Series of Nested Spaces in a Berlin Church Designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Berlin is city in which the past and the present often collide – a phenomenon particularly acute when it comes to the built environment. In this project by Japanese architect and artist Riku Ikegaya, the interior of St. Elisabeth-Kirche (Church of St. Elizabeth)—designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel—is transformed by means of a structural installation. Consisting of a scale model of Schinkel’s plans for the Rosentaler Vorstadt Church, the artist has composed a "three-dimensional architectural sketch."

AD Classics: Acropolis of Athens / Ictinus, Callicrates, Mnesikles and Phidias

The Parthenon, perhaps the most celebrated example of Classical Greek architecture, was only the first of a series of remarkable buildings to be constructed atop the Athenian Acropolis in the wake of the Persian Wars. Led by the renowned statesman Pericles, the city-state embarked on an ambitious rebuilding program which replaced all that had been razed by the Persians. The new complex, while dedicated to the gods and the legends that surrounded the Acropolis, were as much a declaration of Athens’ glory as they were places of worship – monuments to a people who had risen from the ashes of a war to become the most powerful and prosperous state in the ancient world.

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