Collection: UNIT 7


Sacred and Holy

Architect Norman L. Koonce has suggested that the goal of sacred architecture is to make "transparent the boundary between matter and mind, flesh and the spirit."


At first it may seem that sacred and holy are the same thing, but in fact they are two completely different things. 

Looking into sacred spaces

St Dunstan in the East

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The Guild Church of St Margaret Pattens


Looking into movement

"Two general categories are defined: 'contained movement', where it is not the architecture that is thought of as moving, but the eye, mind, imagined body or forces; and 'represented movement', where there is an implication or illusion that the architecture is in motion." 

I think that this is a very interesting definition for what movement in architecture is because it focuses on the viewer; the viewer is in the illusion that the building or form is movng whilst the building is still. I think that there are many aspects that can give a structure this quality such as the used materials, the way that the light falls on the strcture throughout different times of the day or maybe just the way that it is built is so intricate that it looks like its moving when in fact it stays in one place. 


There are many architects and many artists who implement movement in their projects and here are some that I have found very interesting ;

One of the most important people in this aspect of architecture is most definitely Frank Gehry with his moving buildings. He has truly put movement in architecture into a completely different context. 


Frank Gehry designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain



Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles



Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris


The reason why I put these three structures in here is because I am fascinated by how the usage of material and form has become one and is producing movement through this relationship. It is amazing to see that such a harsh material as metal can be used to make such elegant structures.



Looking into emotions

Architecture has almost always been correlated with human emotions.  For example the house that you grew up in as a child is important to you because you are emotionally connected to it; the memories you make in a certain place makes you conected toit whether these were good or bad memories. If a place is dark your brain tells you that this place is scary and you are alerted, if this place is full of light and colours you are automatically more drawn to it. 


When designing a space it is very important to consider people's emotions and how they might feel when they go in it. In this project I am looking to make a space where people will feel safe.

There is also correlation between certain colours and how we feel in a space surrounded by them.

Color may also influence a person’s mental or physical state. For example, studies have shown that some people looking at the color red resulted in an increased heart rate, which then led to additional adrenaline being pumped into the blood stream. 


Psychological Effects of Cool Colours

The colour purple is a mixture of red and blue which gives it the balance between stimulation and serenity which has been found to help encourage creativity.

Blue and Green are considered to have a peaceful and calming effect, which can also be explained scientifically; it is because the eye focuses colour green directly on the retina which is less strain full to the eye muscles.

The colour blue is used inn spaces where people will spend a lot of their time in because it has showed effects such like decre3asing respiration and lowering theblood pressure. 


These scientific facts applied to real life; most people find it calming to walk around parks and nature in general because that is where we can find enormous amounts of green and blue. Hence the reason why i want to build my structure in a park.


Another instance where colour was used to enhance the function of the space can be; a primary school in Brasil painted their walls yellow because yellow is a colour that raises appetite but when looked at for a long time can cause irritation and the need to look away. #The reason why they painted their walls yellow was because they didn't want the children to focus on their surroundings but focus more on what's going on in the class.


"Space that makes us feel not just physically, but also mentally and socially safe is as important as many of life's other necessities" -Aaron Betsky


An article that I found particularly interesting on how to design safe places can be found on;



Some artists that have worked with this aspect of architecture and their works;



Color Psychology: The Color White

  • purity
  • innocence
  • cleanliness
  • sense of space
  • neutrality
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Black

  • authority
  • power
  • strength
  • evil
  • intelligence
  • thinning / slimming
  • death or mourning

Color Psychology: The Color Gray

  • neutral
  • timeless
  • practical

Color Psychology: The Color Red

  • love
  • romance
  • gentle
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • energy
  • excitement
  • intensity
  • life
  • blood

Color Psychology: The Color Orange

  • happy
  • energetic
  • excitement
  • enthusiasm
  • warmth
  • wealth prosperity
  • sophistication
  • change
  • stimulation

Color Psychology: The Color Yellow

  • happiness
  • laughter
  • cheery
  • warmth
  • optimism
  • hunger
  • intensity
  • frustration
  • anger
  • attention-getting

Color Psychology: The Color Green

  • natural
  • cool
  • growth
  • money
  • health
  • envy
  • tranquility
  • harmony
  • calmness
  • fertility

Color Psychology: The Color Blue

  • calmness
  • serenity
  • cold
  • uncaring
  • wisdom
  • loyalty
  • truth
  • focused
  • un-appetizing

Color Psychology: The Color Purple

  • royalty
  • wealth
  • sophistication
  • wisdom
  • exotic
  • spiritual
  • prosperity
  • respect
  • mystery

Color Psychology: The Color Brown

  • reliability
  • stability
  • friendship
  • sadness
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • security
  • natural
  • organic
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Pink

  • romance
  • love
  • gentle
  • calming
  • agitation


Looking into religion

In this project i will be focusing on the seven main religions which include; Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. 








Looking into intimacy

Looking into Islam

The mosque, masjid in Arabic, is the Muslim gathering place for prayer. Masjid simply means “place of prostration.” Though most of the five daily prayers prescribed in Islam can take place anywhere, all men are required to gather together at the mosque for the Friday noon prayer. Mosques are also used throughout the week for prayer, study, or simply as a place for rest and reflection.


Covering a vast 88 acres, the Mosjid al-Haram is the largest Muslim mosque surrounding Islam’s oldest and holiest place, the Kaaba. The Kaaba is said to be a house built by Abraham and his son Ishmael around 2130 BC with a black cornerstone that was supernatural in origin. This stone is still an essential part of the worship and ritual of the current Kaaba though it has now been broken into many pieces.



Sahn (courtyard)

The most fundamental necessity of congregational mosque architecture is that it be able to hold the entire male population of a city or town (women are welcome to attend Friday prayers, but not required to do so). To that end congregational mosques must have a large prayer hall. In many mosques this is adjoined to an open courtyard, called a sahn. Within the courtyard one often finds a fountain, its waters both a welcome respite in hot lands, and important for the ablutions (ritual cleansing) done before prayer.
Mihrab & minbar, Mosque of Sultan Hassan, Cairo, 1356-63 (photo: Dave Berkowitz, CC BY 2.0)

Mihrab (niche)

Mihrab, Great Mosque of Cordoba, c. 786 (photo: Bongo Vongo, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Another essential element of a mosque’s architecture is a mihrab—a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which all Muslims pray. Mecca is the city in which the Prophet Muhammad was born, and the home of the most important Islamic site, the Kaaba. The direction of Mecca is called the qibla, and so the wall in which the mihrab is set is called the qibla wall. No matter where a mosque is, its mihrab indicates the direction of Mecca.  

Minaret (tower)

One of the most visible aspects of mosque architecture is the minaret, a tower adjacent or attached to a mosque, from which the call to prayer is announced.
Mimar Sinan, Minaret, Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, 1558
Minarets take many different forms—from the famous spiral minaret of Samarra, to the tall, pencil minarets of Ottoman Turkey. Not solely functional in nature, the minaret serves as a powerful visual reminder of the presence of Islam.

Qubba (dome)

Most mosques also feature one or more domes, called qubba in Arabic. While not a ritual requirement like the mihrab, a dome does possess significance within the mosque—as a symbolic representation of the vault of heaven. The interior decoration of a dome often emphasizes this symbolism, using intricate geometric, stellate, or vegetal motifs to create breathtaking patterns meant to awe and inspire. Some mosque types incorporate multiple domes into their architecture (as in the Ottoman Süleymaniye Mosque), while others only feature one. In mosques with only a single dome, it is invariably found surmounting the qibla wall, the holiest section of the mosque.


Mosque patronage
Mihrab, 1354–55, just after the Ilkhanid period, Madrasa Imami, Isfahan, Iran, polychrome glazed tiles, 343.1 x 288.7 cm (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Most historical mosques are not stand-alone buildings. Many incorporated charitable institutions like soup kitchens, hospitals, and schools. Some mosque patrons also chose to include their own mausoleum as part of their mosque complex. The endowment of charitable institutions is an important aspect of Islamic culture, due in part to the third pillar of Islam, which calls for Muslims to donate a portion of their income to the poor.
The commissioning of a mosque would be seen as a pious act on the part of a ruler or other wealthy patron, and the names of patrons are usually included in the calligraphic decoration of mosques. Such inscriptions also often praise the piety and generosity of the patron. 
Süleymaniye Kulliyesi (view of kitchens and caravanserai), Istanbul








Hagia Sophia


The Great Mosque of Kairouan


Looking into Christianity


A semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault at the east end




A passage or walkway covered over by a succession of arches or vaults supported by columns






There are several parts in the architecture of a church. Not all churches will have all these parts:

  • The nave is the main part of the church where the congregation (the people who come to worship) sit.
  • The aisles are the sides of the church which may run along the side of the nave.
  • The transept, if there is one, is an area which crosses the nave near the top of the church. This makes the church shaped like a cross, which is a symbol of Jesus's death on a cross.
  • The chancel leads up to the altar at the top of the church. The altar is in the sanctuary. The word “sanctuary” means “sacred place”. People were not allowed to be arrested in the sanctuary, so they were safe. The altar is usually at the east end of the church. People in the church sit facing the altar. We say that the church “faces east”.
  • Churches will also have a tower or steeple, usually at the west end. If the church has a transept the tower may be above the centre of the transept.



Chartres Cathedral Chartres, France


Looking into Temples

Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian subcontinent. Three types of structures are associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: monasteries (viharas), places to venerate relics (stupas), and shrines or prayer halls (chaityas, also called chaitya grihas), which later came to be called temples in some places.




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Legend holds that Shwedagon Pagoda was built over 2,500 years ago by two brothers named Taphussa and Bhallika who were from what is current-day Afghanistan. They are reported to have met the Gautama Buddha, and with relics from the Buddha as well as guidance from other spiritual beings, the two brothers were able to locate the relics of the previous Buddhas. This place of discovery served as the location of Shwedagon Pagoda. Historians and archaeologists hold, contrary to the legendary account, for a more recent dating of construction the Shrine sometime during the 6th century. Regardless of when it was built, the Shwedagon Pagoda is a very sacred place for Theravada Buddhism. Built upon a hill overlooking the surrounding city, the Shwedagon Pagoda’s 368 foot high golden spire lights up the landscape, drawing the onlooker’s eye. The interior design and art is reflective of both Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. As a monument to both Buddhism and Burmese culture, Shwedagon Pagoda is an impressive example of religious architecture.


Potala Palace 


To protect against earthquake, its foundation is 16 feet thick at its base. Universally regarded as a masterpiece of Tibetan religious architecture and art


Paro Taktsang ,Paro Valley, Paro District, Bhutan



Tadao Ando Envelops Giant Buddha Statue in Lavender-Planted Hill Temple






Looking into light

When thinking about light there are some aspects of it that interest me in particular. These aspects can be summed up by; obscurity, natural light, partial illumination and harsh contrasts. Here are some architects that work with light in a way that emphasises and compliments the architectural features of the building;

Zaha Hadid

"Her projects are remarkable not only for her innovative way of handling tangible materials but also for her imagination regarding the medium of light. Her theories of fragmentation and fluidity are now well-known design techniques which enabled her form-finding. However, her advances in using light to render her architecture have often been neglected—even though they became an essential element in revealing and interpreting her architecture. " (Archdaily). 


Particularly in these images the way that Zaha Hadid uses natural and artificial light in contrast with each other interests me and makes me think about the combination of both when doing my own project. I think that in the fisrt image the natural light really compliments the architecture in a way that makes the surroundings blend together which is something that is very important when thinking about the well-being of people that go in it. 


Guangzhou Opera House, 2010, Guangzhou / China. Image © Iwan Baan


Guangzhou Opera House, 2010, Guangzhou / China. Image © Iwan Baan / Courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery


Hoenheim-Nord Terminus, 2002, Strasbourg / France. Image © Frank Dinger


Donald Judd

"Completed in 1986, Donald Judd's 100 aluminum boxes offer one of the most exciting locations to study the grace of minimalism. " (Archdaily)

I think that the works of Donald Judd really reflect on how light is used in various settings rather than just focusing on one single aspect such as natural light or artificial light. This particular work of his transforms a military history into a peaceful and unique environment with the use of specific material combined with the usage of light in the design of the building itself.





 Henry Plummer 

"Architecture professor and photographer Henry Plummer has heightened the transformative power of daylight with his cameras and published several remarkable books about light and architecture." (Archdaily)

Looking into symbolism

"When architectural forms become the vehicles of content—in plan, elevation, and decoration—they are symbolic. Their symbolism can be understood consciously or unconsciously, by association (e.g., spire = church) to a building one has seen before and by the fact that it suggests certain universal experiences (e.g., vertical forms “rise”; low roofs “envelop”). One comprehends the meaning of symbols that are new, as well as those that are known, by association, because the laws of statics restrain builders from putting them into forms so completely unfamiliar that they do not suggest some tradition, just as the structure of language permits endless new meanings but retains a fairly constant vocabulary. The meaning of architectural symbols—or of words—may even change, but the process must be both logical and gradual, for, if the change is irrational, the purpose—communication—is lost."

- Britannica

 Sacred, religious and holy structures often evolved over centuries and were the largest buildings in the world, prior to the modern skyscraper. While the various styles employed in sacred architecture sometimes reflected trends in other structures, these styles also remained unique from the contemporary architecture used in other structures. With the rise of Abrahamic monotheisms (particularly Christianity and Islam), religious buildings increasingly became centres of worship, prayer and meditation.



There are many religious symbols in each religion. Each of these symbols means different things and very important things which makes them the carrier of that ideology. 

Here are 10 religious symbols;


Christian Cross


Muslim Crescent


Buddhist Lotus Flower


Hindu Omkar


Sikh Khanda


Taoist Taiji


Bahai Nine Pointed Star


Shinto Torii


Star of David


Zoroastrian Faravahar

Looking into culture

The importance of culture when talking about religion 

Looking into geometry and forms

Looking into organic architecture



Kunsthaus Graz
Location: Graz, Austria
Architect: Sir Peter Cook and Colin Fournier
Completed: 2003

 The term organic architecture is usually used to mean buildings whose shape or function mimics nature. In this case I really liked the idea that the building was made to resemble the idea of aliens. It is a very unusual idea but the form of the building really makes us think that it is alienated. In both form and material, the building is designed to strike a dramatic contrast with the surrounding baroque roofs of its 'host city' with its red clay roofing tiles; however, it also integrates the façade of an 1847 iron house. The way that this building reflects this idea is how i would like my structure to reflect the idea that it is actually a religious space but it's also a place where people can find peace within themselves and within the busy city life that surrounds them on a daily basis.


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Al Wakrah Stadium
Location: Qatar
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Completed: ongoing

This particular structure interested me because of its very subtle way of opening and closing the structure. I think that this structure perfectly showcases the idea of organic shapes and lines, which makes it integrate in the surroundings.



The Gherkin
Location: London UK
Architect: Foster and Partners
Completed: 2003

I found this piece of information on the Gherkin very interesting; 

"The design of the Gherkin is heavily steeped in energy efficiency with many of its features designed to enhance efficiency. Open shafts in between each floor act as ventilation for the building and require no energy for use. The shafts pull warm air out of the building during the summer and use passive heat from the sun to bring heat into the building during the winter. These open shafts also allow available sunlight to penetrate deep into the building to cut down on light costs. It has been said that 30 St. Mary Axe uses only half of the energy that a similarly sized tower would use."





The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé 
Location: Paris, France
Architect: Renzo Piano
Completed: 2014

This project really interested me because i have never seen such a weird shaped building that could look so beautiful aat the same time. it is particularly interesting how the architect placed this statue-like structure in the middle of Paris where every building is in the same style. 

" the slug shaped new building rises up cheekily above the traditional 19th century neoclassical facade which contains its entrance, so that it can be seen (but only just), from the street, before sloping down into the a former courtyard space behind."



Looking into Synagogues

There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. This is the reason why synagogues tend to be very different depending on where and by whom they were built.


Vasily Stasov designed the Grand Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was completed in 1893 as a central worship space for the area’s growing Jewish community.



Dohány Street Synagogue is also known as the Great Synagogue of Budapest. It is the largest synagogue in all of Europe, seating 3,000 people. It was completed in 1859. Its architecture is of the Moorish Revival style. Interestingly, a Viennese architect, Ludwig Förster is responsible for the synagogue’s design.

The reason why I found this synagogue interesting is because even though its a synagogue it has minarets which resembles a Middle Eastern design. I think that the design of this synagogue is truly breathtaking and it gives a sense of community and comfort because of the lights used and the materials used in the interior of the synagogue itself. The importance of the interior of the structure as well as the outside of the structure is very well portrayed in this example.



Subotica Synagogue is designed in Hungarian Art Nouveau style. It was constructed when Serbia was still part of Austria-Hungary, hence this uncanny cultural influence in the synagogue’s aesthetic. Because of its history it s considered to be a very important synagogue and is protected by the government. 



The Eldridge Street Synagogue was built in 1887. It stands as a historic landmark in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Eastern-European Jews led the undertaking for its construction. In this way, it is one of the first of its kind in the United States. Peter and Francis William Herter were the architects behind its design.



As can be seen in the pictures above these are quite classical examples of synagogues. Even though synagogues don't have particular architectural features they still have resemblances which can be seen from the pictures above, however, there are more modernised and renewed ideas of synagogues as there are churches, mosques etc. 

Here are some examples of modern synagogues that caught may eye;


Beth Sholom Congregation by Frank Lloyd Wright


Beth Sholom_sanctuary_cr Jay Reed Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0_ed.jpg

The reason why I like this synagogue is because it doesn't showcase any of the patterns that can be seen in the above synagogues. It has a very modern style where it almost looks like a buddhist temple because of its roof. It also resembles a pyramid because of its shape. The materials that were used for the roof ad for th body of the structure are very different materials which also catches the eye and makes one think about what it would look like if it was just one material. I think that by using this material for the roof the architect has made a significant difference in the way that it is experienced from the inside as it is almost like its transparent enough to see the sky but opaque enough to keep enough light inside. In my project I would like to use the kind of material because I think it would really suit the idea of being interconnected with nature.


Cymbalista Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Center by Mario Botta




 What makes this synagogue appealing to me is the fact that it looks very closed and protected and the inside has a sensuous and intimate feel to it. It gives you a certain feeling of safeness. The light coming in on that angle also gives it a very interesting look as it is very harsh and not spread out.


Ohel Jakob synagogue, Munich




Multi faith / secular

New Ghana National Cathedral in Accra





the design is envisioned as a “physical embodiment of unity, harmony and spirituality” where people of all faiths will be welcome to gather and practice their faith. The reason why I liked this project is because the idea of it serving multiple faiths is really similar to my idea in my project and I thought it would be beneficial for me to look at similar ideological projects in order to understand whether it is better to make a secular place or a multi faith place. As we cannot see the inside and whether or not there are separate parts for different religions and beliefs it is hard for me to say that I will make a structure resembling this one. However, the design and the fluidity in the design really interested me as the roof is the part that makes it interesting because the base of the building is quite simple. I think that this is a very good example










In a time of what seems to be ever-increasing religious and political conflict, Bartlett students Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, and Nasser Alamadi instead chose to focus on collaboration between religions in their thesis project entitled “Faith Estates,” which outlines a new method of mass religious tourism. In an area around the Dead Sea characterized by disputed boundaries and conflicting ownership claims, the group aims to reimagine the relationship between the world’s three monotheistic religions, but also to rethink the relationship between religion, tourism, and the landscape. The design consists of large-scale excavation sites which form tourist resorts along a pilgrimage route with the goal of forming a mutually beneficial relationship.