Spiritual.d 2012 Entry
Collab. with arch. Andrei Banu for an international (New York based “anonymous.d” magazine) competition.
The traditional views over sacred places were shaped by similar ancient cosmological views. Most ancient civilizations pictured the Universe as composed of three layers: Earth (a flat orthogonal surface), Heavens (concentric metal domes) and the underground regions (subterranean rivers). All these layers were connected by sacred places – vertical axes symbolized by columns, trees, mountains etc. The up–down dichotomy as well as orthogonality were natural consequences of these traditional worldviews. Temples, sanctuaries, churches, cities and gardens – they were all built in this language; verticality was always used to evoke God, while orthogonality symbolised Earth’s systematization, starting from the sacred place (e.g. garden of Eden).
This cosmological view changed dramatically with the Galilean revolution; the Earth was no longer seen as the absolute center; the Universe itself started to be seen as a vast space, instead of a layered pie. Later discoveries, such as Einstein’s General Relativity theory, brought new concepts, such as space-time continuum, curved space and so on. The Universe itself had a beginning, according to G. Lemaitre’s theory.The latest shift in our understanding of the world was brought in by the Chaos Theories, which discovered new types of structures such as fractals, strange attractors, emergent structures, waves and twists, nonlinearity etc.
We’re no longer bound to orthogonality or the up-down dichotomy. Instead of seeking God above, in Heaven, we seek him beyond, outside the boundaries of the Universe. Instead of living in a determined world, we find ourselves living in a chaotic, self-organizing and constantly changing Universe.
Our proposal aims to reflect this new worldview – it starts like a trail in space-time: a path which evokes the shifts in our Universe’s history: the appearance of energy from a single spot, the appearance of matter, which curves space-time continuum (the path starts to fold and even split into two at some point, evoking catastrophy theory), the appearance of life (the interior space of the chapels) and the emerging of consciousness (the main gathering area).
The spiritual space is split into two sections: a circular area for multicultural meditation and prayer (Christian, Muslim and Buddhist prayer rooms) and a round central hall, destined for religious and scientific conferences, debates, lectures etc. The prayer rooms open consecutively from the circular trail which surrounds the central hall, featuring different worldviews (different interior environments) over the same reality (same exterior perspective: the island and the lake). The central hall was thought like a static view of the Universe – no up-down dichotomy (like in traditional churches or mosques), no orthogonality, no central element: visitors enter in through the spiral stair below and find themselves totally disoriented in an imperfect sphere (parametric deformations applied). The lights and wood finishings evoke constant rotation, as in the night sky. The stair could be seen as a metaphor of information (DNA) which generates material shapes.
Instead of seeking transcendence up above, we now seek it beyond the borders of the Universe – the prayer rooms which extend beyond the central hall’s boundaries.