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Bahá’í Temple of South America

08 Mar 2018
Image Credit: Sebastián Wilson León
Architectural Credit: Hariri Pontarini Architects
Location: Santiago, Chile
Architects: Hariri Pontarini Architects
Date of Completion: 2016

OAA Design Excellence Awards Finalist

Near the metropolis of Santiago, Chile, the Bahá’í Temple of South America sits on the Andean foothills. Its domed structure is made of nine monumental glass veils that frame an open worship space where 600 visitors can be accommodated. The architects’ creativity lies in their innovations in three primary areas: technology, materials and structure.

Site plan
Drawing Credit: Hariri Pontarini Architects

Concept to construction drawings
Photo and Drawing Credit: Hariri Pontarini Architects

An intensive study of materials that capture, express and embody light resulted in the selection of two claddings: an interior layer of exceptional translucent marble from the Portuguese Estremoz quarries, and an exterior layer of cast-glass panels developed exclusively for this project. The research for the cast-glass exterior took nearly four years in collaboration with the Jeff Goodman Studio in Toronto, resulting in the production and assembly of 1,129 unique pieces of flat and curved cast glass. 

Façade close-up
Photo Credit: Sebastián Wilson León

Façade in sunlight
Photo Credit: Sebastián Wilson León

The Temple straddles the rolling topography of the mountains in one direction and the city’s sprawl below. Its glass and marble becomes infused with the seasonal colours of Santiago’s sky and a soft glow from the inversion of light at night. The domed massing, double-shell cladding were designed to maximize the effect of passive heating and cooling, almost eliminating the need for heating and cooling requirements. As a mandate, materials were selected to last for 400 years.   

Interior ceiling oculus
Photo Credit: Sebastián Wilson León

Benches in sunlight
Photo Credit: Sebastián Wilson León

The design sought to express the central tenant of the Bahá’í faith: unity in diversity. Inspiration is taken from the Bahá’í writings: a prayer answered is light embodied. The design brief mandated nine sides and entrances for a spiritual structure welcoming to all peoples of all faith (or no faith), cultural and economic strata. 

Approach to one of the nine entrances
Photo Credit: Sebastián Wilson León 

Sunsetting over Santiago
Photo Credit: Hariri Pontarini Architects

The temple became a major attraction in South America, welcoming around 36,000 visitors on a typical weekend. 

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March 16, 2018 09:31 by Anonymous

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