During an award ceremony in Toronto, the Baha’i Temple of South America by Hariri Pontarini Architects was announced as the winner of the 2019 RAIC International Prize for Excellence in Architecture. Established in 2013 by notable Canadian architect Richard Moriyama, the CAD$100,000 prize — formerly called the Moriyama RAIC International Prize — honors socially transformative architecture and is open to architects based anywhere in the world. The jury selected the temple out of three shortlisted projects that included the Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center in Sinthian, Senegal by Toshiko Mori Architect and Barclay & Crousse's Edificio E, Lecture Building at the University of Piura in Piura, Peru.
Since opening in 2016, the domed Baha'i Temple has garnered a handful of awards in recent years, including a 2019 AIA Institute Honors Award, a 2018 Faith & Form Religious Art & Architecture Award, the 2017 RAIC Innovation in Architecture Award, and an Award for Structural Artistry in the 2017 Structural Awards competition — just to name a few.
Additionally, three CAD$5,000 scholarships were awarded to students of Canadian architecture schools for essays they wrote in response to the topic of “the moment when they decided to become an architect.” The student recipients are Laure Nolte of Dalhousie University; Lucie Palombi of the University of Montreal; and Odudu Umoessien of the University of Manitoba.
Read on for more about the Baha’i Temple of South America.
Located at the foot of the Andes near Santiago, Chile, the temple plays a significant role for the local community by providing a welcoming space to gather and sit in quiet contemplation. Perhaps the building's most distinctive feature is the nine gracefully torqued wings that form an oculus at the top. The wings are made of an outer layer of cast-glass panels and an interior layer of translucent marble from Portugal that took Hariri Pontarini Architects and a Canadian glass artisan four years of experimentation.
“At the heart of this building there is a belief and an aspiration: that even now, in the fractured 21st- century, we can respond to a human yearning to come together, to connect to one another, and to something that moves the spirit,” the architecture firm wrote in their competition submission. “The arced lines of the supple wooden benches invite people to come together, not as part of a congregation, but to congregate; to sit next to one another in quiet contemplation, sharing in the communal act of being.”
The Bahá‘í House of Justice commissioned the project to Hariri Pontarini as the eighth and final continental temple for the Bahá‘í Faith. “...central to its brief and its design is that it be a place of welcome, community, and meaning for everyone,” the architects continued.
“The architects resolve a challenging and prescriptive program for a new Baha’i Temple near Santiago with a powerful form that creates a new landmark — a jewel — in a dramatic natural setting,” the jury commented. “During the day, the striking form is animated by the variations of light and shade on the building’s softly turning surfaces. At night, it stands like a lantern, softly lit from within.”
Check out a video, project photos, and drawings in the gallery below.
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