Sensing the sacred : designing an interfaith center for Bozeman, Montana
MetadataShow full item record
Designing sacred space is not a simple undertaking. Throughout the process one must attempt to understand religious beliefs and needs, often beyond one's own belief system, and translate intangible ideas into practical architectural realities. Designing interfaith sacred space becomes an infinitely more complex problem, complete with conflicting beliefs, values, and architectural practices. Rectifying countless sets of opposing ideas within an architectural space becomes a challenge that few architects have attempted thus far. Yet the value of interfaith sacred space in today's society is enormous because we live in an interfaith world - one striving to achieve peace amidst crisis, conflict, and the "busyness" of everyday life. Interfaith sacred space is more than a room where people of different faiths gather and share. It can provide the opportunity for individuals to step out of the intensity of the profane into the quietude of the sacred and connect with their inner peace and strength. How does one design a space that can be recognized as sacred to people of multiple religious traditions when those traditions struggle to agree on the basic nature of a higher power, let alone icons, ideologies, and doctrines? Perhaps a common ground exists beyond the realm of religious doctrine. All of humanity, regardless of religious orientation, shares in experiencing life through the five senses. Often spiritual experiences are paired with events that emphasize one or a few of those senses. In fact, religious traditions make use of this connection between the senses and the sacred in order to heighten the spiritual encounters of their followers. Furthermore, individuals that do not even claim to be religious will often equate a spiritual event in their life with a certain awareness of one or more of their senses. Often these experiences, either individual or shared amongst a community, will bring about a sense of peace and tranquility. By engaging the five senses through architectural features that peacefully trigger and place emphasis upon these senses, people of any religious tradition are invited to participate and share as individuals and communities in spiritual experiences in these troubled times.