Designed by Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects, the Bahá’í Temple of South America in Chile has been shortlisted for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) International Prize.
The world-renowned prize is only awarded every two years and celebrates architecture that transforms societies and promotes justice, respect, equality and inclusiveness. RAIC received submissions from 12 countries. Later this year, the winner will be announced the gala in Toronto, Canada on the 25th October.
Belief and aspiration that people can come together in the ‘fractured 21st century’ is at the heart of the temple. Located at the edge of Santiago, the temple lies close to the Andes mountains. The eighth temple for the Bahá’í faith was commissioned by the Bahá’í House of Justice with its design ensuring it is a place of welcome, community and meaning for everyone.
The temple’s form is universally appealing and at one with the landscape. The building comes alive with embodied light and is composed of nine graceful torqued wings bound to the oculus at the top. This allows the temple to be light but also rooted with a sense of permanence. The circular structure has nine sides and nine entrances.
To contrast the harmony of the temple and the landscape, the interior of the building is voluminous with soft light filtering through the cast glass exterior and translucent marble of the wing. Inviting people to come together, the arched line of the supple wooden benches allow people to sit and contemplate, whilst the alcoved mezzanine above offers solitude to those who wish to keep to themselves without losing the sense of community from below.
The toughness of the structure and engineering that makes the building able to weather the rugged, earthquake-prone climate becomes unnoticeable due to the delicacy and intimacy of the temple. A team of global volunteers was needed to make the unique design necessary, therefore the process - like the building itself - drew people together for a shared common goal.
“The result is timeless and inspiring, a building that uses a language of space and light, form and materials, to express an interpretation of Bahá’í philosophy and teaching that becomes universally accessible as a shared spiritual and emotional experience.” - RAIC International Prize, Jury Comment.
Since its opening in 2016, the temple has become the embodiment of the hope for commonality within diversity with over 1.4 million visitors. The temple is a significant place for Chile’s social landscape, offering community clubs and youth outreach programs.
Founding Partner of the renowned Canadian firm Hariri Pontarini Architects, Siamak Hariri’s portfolio includes both nationally and internationally recognised buildings that has one many awards. Hariri Pontarini Architects is a firm devoted to producing work of lasting value.