4.1.2017

Pop Up Places of Worship

While religious structures do not satisfy needs pertaining to an individual’s biological survival, they do nourish one’s identity within a collective. They provide a familiar place of being. This is something that we consider synonymous with being human and a requirement for the persistence of culture.

Overview: With issues like rapid urbanization, unprecedented forced migration, and an increasingly frequent devastation of built environments by natural disasters, informal settlements are taking on a new role in contemporary societies. Many of these places, while intended to be temporary, end up existing for years — even decades — and are home to massive populations. Children are often born, raised, and educated in such places. Families grow and develop while knowing little more than the adhoc, emergency shelters that have been deployed. Understandably, with such a reduction of amenity that much of the world takes for granted, the majority of the limited resources available are dedicated to the basic needs of the individual’s survival. These settlements, however, are often comprised of entire communities — groups of people that have shared histories, traditions and customs — but these cultural institutions are often lost in the midst of the desperation that surrounds, for example, refugee life. Among the most prevalent of these cultural notions is that of religious practices. This projects attempts to recognize that religious faith and practice, when all else is stripped away, is often the most fundamental thing that tethers people together. It tests this by proposing temporary places for communities to gather, worship and partake in their collective. While the exploration’s relevance could certainly extend to all cultures for whom such practices are relevant, a project scope limited to the three ‘world’ religions was established for practical reasons.

Pluralism: It was of course necessary to develop a coherent explanation of our views on both pluralism as an architectural concept and what it means to live in a pluralist society. A frequent response to this in contemporary culture is to design abstracted, singular spaces that can accommodate all faiths. This would certainly shrink the scope of the project and also lessen the risk offending through cultural definition. However, we believe that this in fact would be antithetical to our purpose, for, as we have discovered, when one is trying to discover the very basic most fundamental physical manifestation of these cultural identifiers, a precision and familiarity is required. With that said, there is a proposal for each religion, but each structure is abstracted within the confines of its respective tradition.

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Simple Assembly: The ability for the structures to be easily packed, shipped, and deployed begins to interrogate the urban stereotypes that have typically been associated with ineffable space. In the areas where the social, political, or natural climates are such where we imagine these being deployed, we believe that they can serve as a crucial place for community development.

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