Design of Colombian House of Worship unveiled

Posted: 2014/10/15
The design of the central edifice of the local Bahá’í House of Worship in the Norte del Cauca region of Columbia.

The design of the central edifice of the local Bahá’í House of Worship in the Norte del Cauca region of Colombia.

In its 2012 Ridvan message to the Bahá’ís of the world, the Universal House of Justice announced the construction of local Bahá’í Houses of Worship in seven localities around the world.

An article published in September on the Baha’i World News Service website announced the unveiling of the design for one of the local Baha’i Houses of Worship to be built in the Norte del Cauca region of Colombia.

The small team from Colombian architectural firm, CUNA, presented the approved plans at a meeting held mid-September at the site designated for its construction, before an audience of 500 people from the region and further afield.

Eduard Lopez, one of the architects working on the project who spoke on behalf of the firm explained that to develop the design, the firm’s team spent many hours, over the course of months, visiting different communities and groups in Norte del Cauca, listening to their ideas and thoughts about the House of Worship, coming to understand their aspirations and participating in their community-building activities.

“We understand that this is a deeply emotional process for you,” he said. “It is also deeply emotional for us.”

“People tell us that we are designing this House of Worship. But it is actually all of you who have designed it, and we are channeling your ideas.”

 

An image of the design for the interior of the central edifice.

An image of the design for the interior of the central edifice.

Mr. Lopez explained that in order to prepare a design in harmony with the culture of the people and the physical environment, the team studied the natural surroundings and the architecture of the homes in the region.

“We chose materials for the building with a number of variables in mind,” Mr. Lopez explained. “We wanted materials that were from this region; materials that would not harm the natural surroundings.”

“The central concepts behind the design were simplicity and unity. This is how we find that God has made nature,” he further elaborated.

In a letter to the Bahá’ís of the world on 1 August, the Universal House of Justice articulated the nature of the task before the architects working on designs for the local Bahá’í Houses of Worship which are to be constructed in seven localities around the world in the near future:

“Architects are presented with the singular challenge of designing Temples ‘as perfect as is possible in the world of being’ that harmonize naturally with the local culture and the daily lives of those who will gather to pray and meditate therein. The task calls for creativity and skill to combine beauty, grace, and dignity with modesty, functionality, and economy.”

Monica Campos who was born in Norte del Cauca, in the small town of Santander de Quilichao, explained that “the House of Worship is the materialization of forty years of development in Norte del Cauca. Not only has the Bahá’í Faith developed in the region over these decades, but the region has developed together with the Bahá’í Faith.”

“Understanding this historical context,” she continued, “helps us see that the House of Worship belongs to all the people of the region.”