Room for Prayer: Designing for Spirituality and Sanctuary
Few spaces are as intimate and contemplative as prayer rooms. Designed as both stand-alone structures and part of larger projects, prayer rooms are made as an architecture of introspection. Located within a house of worship or funerary space, or for their own dedicated purpose, these quiet rooms offer tranquil areas to consider life and the passage of time. Reflecting larger ideas on specific faiths and spirituality, they are designed as spaces of symbolism and sanctuary.
Not only are prayer rooms made to be comfortable and functional, but they create a sense of calm. Each room and structure differs based on the specific religion or faith they are tied to, but they often share a smaller scale. Careful attention is paid to removing clutter and ornamentation that would distract from the room’s purpose, and in turn, these projects balance a desire to venerate shared values and beliefs. Each of the following prayer rooms are drawn from different environmental, economic and cultural contexts. They encompass not only elements of experience and introspection, but also ideas of ritual in contemporary life.
The prayer and meditation pavilion is an integral part of the realized Cardiac surgery center in Sudan, built by the Italian humanitarian organization, EMERGENCY NGO. The complex, planned and designed by Tam Associati architecture studio, is the only one of its kind to provide free health-care to patients in an extensive area within a ten million square km radius, and counting three hundred million inhabitants.
The project is as a space to meditate and pray. Separated a few meters from the existing main chapel, this small oratory seeks to create a place for isolation and reflection. A concrete structure confines the space on 3 of its sides, floor and roof. One of these sides is barely perforated so that light, air and rain can enter the interior. The remaining side, accommodates the timber doors that repeat the outline of the interior space indicating access.
The project is located in a very consolidated urban sector, on a busy street south of the city of Paraná. Initially, the place was an undeveloped and depopulated area in which a small temple was erected, with a gabled roof and side tower. Then, as the years progressed, the city grew and so did its immediate surroundings. The initial temple became too small for the demand it had to satisfy, and therefore a larger building is built next to it for that purpose.
The Narrow Door House is an architectural project to support parish activities in Gamil, in the municipality of Barcelos. The land is owned by the applicant, Factory of the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist of Gamil. The terrain has the shape of an irregular polygon, with a slightly accentuated and leafy relief. From the entrance there is an access that sits on the ground and serves both the proposed equipment and the parish residence. The whole construction envelope is made with facings in granite masonry.
Situated in the heart of the village, the cemetery of Hopfgarten in Defereggen is not only a place for mourning and farewell, but also one of daily encounters. For the expansion of the area and the construction of a wake room, the municipality initiated an invited peer review. Death and mortality should fill a symbolic place in the community, which would, at the same time, also provide a “worthy and intimate” framework for the farewell rituals of mourners, according to the demand of the municipal clients.
Integrated in a hybrid residential context which crosses urban and rural references, the mortuary house emerges as a filter between them and a universe of contemplation of the distant mountains. Bounded by a municipal road, a farmland and the Church of Vila Caiz, the constructed volume results from the confluence between the axes of delimiters ground, framing the landscape and solar orientation.