Common ground for Multifaith Centre design
Moriyama & Teshima Architects were met with a unique challenge in the Multifaith Centre at the University of Toronto. Their design was required to create a uniquely versatile venue for the practice and discussion of religion and spirituality in which students and leaders of all faiths feel equally welcome and equally valued. The space was crafted within the constraints of an existing building, with selective alterations to existing interior spaces to meet both programming and budget needs.
The design paradox was to create ‘faith-neutral’ spaces with a design aesthetic that is universally perceived as a sanctuary and retreat for all; while also creating innovative elements that allow all faith groups to adapt spaces quickly to suit their particular needs.
Avoiding icons and symbolism, ‘light’ (spiritual and metaphysical) emerged as a common theme to all faiths and became the central feature of the main facility hall. A dramatic ceiling and front wall of back lit translucent white Onyx panels illuminates the space. The onyx was panelized by using sacred numerology and geometries to create a ceiling mosaic that subtly references the religious structure of all faiths. Facilities were added to accommodate specific religious requirements such as a foot bathing area used in Muslim faith.