Multifaith Sanctuary

A post-tensioned wood structure transforms an historic room

  • Type Institutional,
  • Location Santa Clara, CA
  • Status Concept
  • Date 2013
  • Collaborators

    Min | Day

The Multifaith Sanctuary is both programmatically and architecturally innovative. The challenge of Multifaith is the lack of precedents for both design and function. In order to address all faiths, the design must convey universal spiritual attitudes while refraining from overt references to specific religions and traditions. Additionally, the space requires great flexibility to accommodate different users and activities. Sited within a prominent building on campus, our other challenge was to create a design that would minimally alter the existing historic space and allow for potential restoration to current conditions.

To maximize the footprint of the existing space, the form of the sanctuary begins as a rectangle inscribing the boundary of the space at the floor. This rectangle transitions to an ellipse at the ceiling, forming a twisted wall. The ellipse shifts slightly off axis to subtly inform Muslim students of the direction of prayer. The form opens itself up to afford entry from the vestibule. See also FLOCK, a full-scale test of this novel construction system.

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Utilizing a mundane building material (2×8 lumber), the Multifaith Sanctuary transforms an existing conference room within an historic campus building into a spiritual destination where students and faculty from all faiths can gather for worship.

Vestibule with precast concrete floor tiles, fiber reinforced concrete bench, wall panels, and locker doors.

The apparently complex form is created using a a parametric model based on the logic of ruled surfaces.

A space designed for use by students and faculty of all faiths and traditions, privileging none.

The individual building block is a standard piece of dimensional lumber stacked and held in tension by a series of cables between a steel beam (hidden below the raised floor) and a steel tension ring at the top (concealed inside the top layers of wood). To simplify the construction processes, the wood building blocks are standard sizes and lengths. Additional materials include: fiber-reinforced concrete, concrete pavers and LED lighting.

Materials and construction system tested in a temporary installation (see FLOCK).

Project Awards

2014 AIA Nebraska Merit Award

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