THE BAHÁ’Í TEMPLE OF SOUTH AMERICA H A R I R I P O N TA R I N I A R C H I T E C T S
SPIRITUALITY AND LIGHTNESS
A temple of light expressing a faith of inclusion is poised to become an architectural landmark in Chile. Set within the Andean foothills just beyond the metropolis of Santiago, the complexcurved temple is designed by the distinguished Canadian architect Siamak Hariri as an invitation for spiritual contemplation and architectural pilgrimage. Surrounded by reflecting pools and a landscape of native grasses, the Bahá’í Temple of South America is a domed, luminous structure that echoes the rolling topography of the Andes while appearing to float some 30 metres above the earth. Its nine monumental glass veils frame an open and accessible worship space where up to 600 visitors can be accommodated on curved walnut and leather seating. Looking up to the central oculus at the apex of the dome, visitors will experience a mesmerizing transfer of light from the exterior of cast glass to an interior of translucent Portuguese marble. At sunset, the light captured within the dome shifts from white to silver to ochre and purple. Fourteen years in the making, the South American House of Worship represents the last of the eight continental temples to be completed as part of a remarkable portfolio of landmark sacred architecture commissioned by the Bahá’í Community. The temple will be unveiled on its stunning 10-hectare site outside of Santiago in mid-October, 2016 with a series of press and public events. Without ritual or clergy, without icons or images, Bahá’í Temples are conceived to reflect an ideal of universal worship where women, men and children can gather together as equals. The Bahá’ís believe in the critical role of volunteerism (known as service) to heighten their prayer and reflection within a House of Worship. In time, universities and hospitals are to be erected in proximity to the temples. In Chile, connecting to the community has inspired the repurposing of an existing golf clubhouse on the property into an education centre for youth. Openness and transparency are fundamental to both the structure and its site. The Bahá’í House of Worship can be accessed by nine entrances located at regular intervals around the domed structure, while curving paths lead visitors on walking meditations through the sloped landscape. The acclaimed Chilean landscape architect,
“We sought solidity while also creating a building capable of dissolving in light.” Siamak Hariri, Partner-In-Charge
Juan Grimm, has transformed a barren golf course into a lush, colourful landscape planted with native, drought-resistant varieties that extend generously around the temple. According to Grimm’s landscape design and working in partnership with the Municipality of Peñalonen, the Bahá’ís are planting native Quillay trees to support an environmental program called “Crece Verde” or “Green Growth”. In total, more than 6000 trees have been planted or are currently growing in a nursery established for the temple landscape. Visitors to the spectacular site will be amazed first by the epic scale of the surrounding Andes. Walking toward the House of Worship up stone stairs and along pathways visitors will experience gardens that foreground the temple. As the path cuts between a rise in the landscape, the temple disappears momentarily only to reappear alongside a monumental reflecting pool. Standing next to the temple, visitors will appreciate the complex subtlety of the exterior cladding manufactured from melted glass that recalls the configuration of snowflake crystals. Access to the mountain site was previously difficult. To open the House of Worship to all peoples as a place
of prayer and meditation, the Bahá’ís have invested significantly to build a new road to the site, allowing for easy access for locals visiting from Santiago. Of the new South American temple, Francisco Chahuán, Senator of the Republic of Chile said: “I have no doubt that this place is destined to be a center of prayer, meditation and gathering, that will also invite all of the inhabitants of Peñalolén and the whole country to seek a place of tranquility and introspection.” Designing a structure as complex and varied as nature required the most advanced computer technology. Led by Siamak Hariri, the team at Hariri Pontarini Architects innovated its own system of rendering the sculptural building, using machine-to-machine fabrication to create highly irregular, organic shapes in glass. “The aim was to achieve an interplay of seeming contradictions: stillness and movement, simplicity and complexity, intimacy and monumentality,” says design lead and partner-in-charge, Siamak Hariri. “We sought solidity while also creating a building capable of dissolving in light.”
CREATING A POETIC STRUCTURE Around the world, each of the BahĂĄâ€™Ă continental temples serve as centres of worship as well as expressions of technological innovation and architectural excellence. Accomplishing the unique three-dimensional forms required that the studio render the complex shapes using CATIA model as the contractual document. The research for the cast-glass exterior cladding took nearly four years. Working in collaboration with glass artisans at Jeff Goodman & Studio, the team fired millions of borosilicate glass rods in customized kilns, eventually producing flat glass imbued with compelling variations of translucency, movement and colour. A remarkable 1129 unique pieces of cast glass have been assembled with meticulous care to create each of the nine temple veils. Rather than using overlapping joinery, the temple designers separated each piece of glass with a 1.5 inch glass joint. On the inside, the veils are clad in Portugese Estremoz Marble. Flat pieces were water-jet cut while the complex curved pieces were extracted from blocks using CNC (computer-numeric controlled) machines. Seen as a whole, the veils can also be interpreted as leaves or feathers twirling in motion. Though entirely clad in marble, the feathers of marble seem to be bound at the top of the dome as if large, malleable pieces of rope. Santiago is located within a highly seismic zone. In response, the temple achieves something rare in contemporary architecture: ultra-luminous materials that celebrate organic forms while satisfying earthquake-resistant requirements. Each of the nine translucent veils is supported on a web of structural steel members (858 steel pieces for every veil) and each one rests on concrete rings and columns, the entirety set down on elastomeric seismic isolators. In response to earthquake tremors, the concrete pads slide horizontally to absorb the shock, keeping the temple safe from cracking.
ENGAGING LOCAL AND GLOBAL COMMUNITIES
WELCOMING ALL PEOPLE The Bahá’ís believe that worship and volunteer service go hand in hand. They believe deeply in volunteerism for the betterment of society, either as individual or collective acts. In June, 2003, the Bahá’í global community was asked to contribute to the $30-million fund for the South American House of Worship. The contribution goes far beyond dollars. For years, volunteers from around the world have gathered in the foothills of the Andes to help with the construction and landscaping of South America’s first Bahá’í temple. Even during the cold winter months, when temperatures overnight dip down to 2 degrees Celsius, volunteers from Chile, Canada and the United States collaborated to move soil in wheelbarrows, while members of a local volunteer choir gathered to rehearse inside the space, their voices filling the soaring temple. As is the case with all of the continental temples, the South American mother temple aspires to build community and empower youth through educational programs. A youth leadership centre will be unveiled in October, 2016 on the site, the result of a renovation of a private clubhouse which served members of a golf course during a previous iteration. The last of eight continental temples, this network of temples serves to establish an interconnected Bahá’í community around the world. Besides the South American temple, the other Houses of Worship are located in North America (Wilmette, Illinois), Central America (Panama), Oceania (Samoa), Europe (Langenhain, outside of Frankfurt), Africa (Kampala, Uganda), Asia (New Delhi), Australia (Sydney).
THE CONNECTION TO CANADA
A LEGACY OF VISIONARY DESIGN
Over more than a century, Canadian architects have contributed excellence in design and technological innovation to Bahá’í buildings around the world. They include: • Quebec architect Louis Bourgeois (1856 -1930) designed the Wilmette, Illinois North American Temple; • Vancouver’s Fariborz Sahba, (b. 1948 ) designed the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India; • Montreal’s William Sutherland Maxwell (1874 – 1952) designed the Shrine of the Báb on Mont Carmel in Haifa; • Canadian-Iranian Hossein Amanat (b. 1942 ) designed the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the International Teaching Centre, and Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts. Toronto architect Siamak Hariri (b. 1958) designed the South American House of Worship, outside of Santiago, Chile. Comprised of a dome framed by nine translucent wings the remarkable structure will be unveiled to the world in October, 2016, after fourteen years of planning, design and making. Embodied Light, a 240 page monograph of the Bahá’í Temple of South America will be published by Birkhäuser and released in December 2016.
ABOUT THE ARCHITECT
ABOUT THE BAHÁ’Í HOUSES OF WORSHIP
Siamak Hariri is a Toronto-based architect and founding partner of Hariri Pontarini Architects with David Pontarini. To every project, Siamak brings a profound dedication to aligning with the spirit of a site, capturing light and privileging the craft of architecture. Though his portfolio includes university buildings, private residences and hospitals, he also brings heart and soul to smaller scale projects such as a hospice for people living with AIDS/HIV, a downtown shelter for abused women, an art gallery and screening cinema. His nationally and internationally recognized buildings have won over 50 awards, including the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture and the 2013 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Architectural Firm Award. Siamak’s $110-million Ivey Business School at Western University won the 2016 Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award. Through an international call and competition among four finalists, Siamak Hariri was awarded the commission to design the $30-million South American House of Worship, the last of the Bahá’í continental temples. For his contribution to architecture in Canada and abroad, Siamak was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Ryerson University in Toronto. Born in Bonn, Germany and educated at the University of Waterloo and Yale University where he completed a Master of Architecture, Siamak lives in Toronto with the artist, Sasha Rogers, and their children.
Besides the South American temple, the other Houses of Worship are located in North America (Wilmette, Illinois), Central America (Panama), Oceania (Samoa), Europe (Langenhain, outside of Frankfurt), Africa (Kampala, Uganda), Asia (New Delhi), Australia (Sydney). Around the world, each of the Bahá’í temples serves as a centre of worship as well as an expression of technological innovation and architectural excellence. Santiago is located within a highly seismic zone. In response, the temple achieves something rare in contemporary architecture: ultra-luminous materials that celebrate organic forms while satisfying earthquake-resistant requirements. Each of the translucent veils is supported on a web of structural steel members (858 steel pieces for every veil) that rest on concrete rings and columns, the entirety set down on seismic isolation pads. As is the case with all of the continental temples, the South American mother temple aspires to build community and empower youth through educational programs. Volunteers from around the world helped to build certain aspects of the Santiago temple. Besides the emerging community in Chile, the largest Bahá’í communities in South America are in Brazil and Colombia.
INAUGURATION AND PRESS: Press Conference: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 Grand Opening: Thursday, October 13, 2016
For Interviews with Siamak Hariri, Contact: Mell Furs, Communications, Hariri Pontarini Architects firstname.lastname@example.org 416.929.4901 ext: 275
Chilean Contact – Temple Dedication Events: Jenny Perez-Genge, Coordinator, Office of External Affairs, Chilean Bahá’í Community email@example.com
Bahá’í Community Contact: Gerald Filson Director of External Affairs Bahá’í Community of Canada firstname.lastname@example.org 905.889.8168
PROJECT TEAM THE BAHÁ’Í TEMPLE OF SOUTH AMERICA HARIRI PONTARINI ARCHITECTS
Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects Partner-in-Charge: Siamak Hariri Project Manager: Doron Meinhard Project Architect: Justin Ford Project Team: Michael Boxer Tiago Masrour Jin-Yi McMillen Adriana Balen Donald Peters John Cook
George Simionopoulos Tahirih Viveros Jaegap Chung Mehrdad Tavakkolian Jimmy Farrington
Project Management: Desarrolllo y Construccion del Templo Bahá’í de Sudamerica Ltda. Superstructure and Cladding: Gartner Steel and Glass GmbH Glass Casting: Jeff Goodman Studio and CGD Glass Stone Fabrication: EDM SUBCONSULTANTS: Local Architect: Benkal y Larrain Arquitectos Landscape Architect: Juan Grimm Structural Consultants: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Halcrow Yolles EXP Patricio Bertholet M. Cladding Consultants: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC Consultants: MMM Group, Videla & Asociados, The OPS Group Lighting Consultant: I sometrix, Limari Lighting Design Ltda Acoustics: Verónica Wulf
Exquisitely-crafted, the House of Worship is an unforgettable architectural experience - a powerful gathering place - designed to make spirituality relevant to a new generation.