Baha’I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters

SpaceMatters

SpaceMatters

Text and images by SpaceMatters

Our winning entry for the Baha’I House of Worship in Bihar Sharif, India engages with the spiritual power of space and is based on the faith’s strong sense of spiritual oneness, equality and inclusion. It is poetic for us to be building the second Baha’i temple in India because our understanding of the power of space to inspire came from the powerful architecture of the first Baha’i temple in India, the ‘Lotus Temple’ in Delhi.

Categories:

Share Post:

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Baha'I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters 1

 

SpaceMatters is a multidisciplinary, research-based habitat design practice founded in 2005 in Delhi, India. Our work spans diverse scales and contexts, and we believe that every space has an element of the sacred. Our winning entry for the Baha’I House of Worship in Bihar Sharif, India engages with the spiritual power of space and is based on the faith’s strong sense of spiritual oneness, equality and inclusion. It is poetic for us to be building the second Baha’i temple in India because our understanding of the power of space to inspire came from the powerful architecture of the first Baha’i temple in India, the ‘Lotus Temple’ in Delhi.

 

Award winning design: Baha'i temple, at Bihar, India, by Spacematters

 

The concept drew from the teachings of the Bahá’u’lláh, especially the following pertaining to the houses of worship.

  • “ …by His remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled with light”
  • “… Make them as perfect as is possible in the world of being ……..’
  • “ …Belonging to the land from which it has risen..”

As we understand it, the Baha’i teachings call for a space both rooted and transcendent. This finds expression in form, materiality and visual motifs for the House of Worship in Bihar Sharif. The essential form is a dome. The relief work on the dome draws from fractals – patterns ubiquitous in nature – and the Madhubani folk art of Bihar; combining both universal and local influence. A complex combination of arches and squinches rises up – creating playful patterns and apertures.

 

Baha'I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters 4

 

At the center of the 7.5-acre site sits the House of Worship, commanding a foreground large and picturesque enough to appreciate it from all angles. The edifice is a 16-meter high dome of concrete and brick resting on a star-shaped, 5-meter high plinth whose radius is double of the dome’s. Visitors climb up gently-sloping ramps through shallow pools and gardens to reach the edifice entrance. The edifice steps up from nine-sided arched segments, multiplying till each segment appears to merge into a singular geometry – the Oculus. This circular opening at the center of the dome allows light in, and marks the focus of those below towards the higher power above. Each ring of the brick arches lining the dome contain openings that lighten the ceiling while bringing in a gentle, glare-free light filtered through local Indian marble.

In Bihar, brick is the ubiquitous material of choice – visible in the ordinary, as well as monumental architecture such as the magnificent ruins of Nalanda. At the House of Worship, brick brings together millennia of human intelligence while its construction systems draw from modern innovation and technology. The role of the individual and collective in the community of faith is architecturally represented by a single module coming together to form larger modules that replicate to form the entire dome.

 

Baha'I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters 6

 

The circular hall accommodates 210 people in a fixed seating arrangement, and 500 people at full capacity; all of whom face the cardinal direction of Baha’i Qiblih while praying. A low-cost passive cooling system utilises the geothermal heat sink of the surrounding earth to cool the edifice from below. Small openings for natural light act as cavity resonators, a traditional acoustic design element used in domes through centuries.

 

Baha'I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters 8

 

The formal and highly geometric layout of the center gives way to an organic landscape of trees that invite birds and other creatures. Native forestry based on the Miyawaki technique is proposed along the site peripheries with clearings and water features embedded in this dense landscape as sites for informal, community activities.

The House of Worship in Bihar Sharif strives to fulfil two simultaneous design ideals – it must fit into the ‘everyday’ while celebrating the ‘extraordinary’. Thus, our design yields to a greater power, a higher logic while emphasising the power of the ordinary. For SpaceMatters, it is a privilege and responsibility to contribute and realize the vision of the Baha’i community across the world. We are grateful and excited to bring the concept to life.

 

Drawings –

 

 

Project Form –

Project: Baha’i House of Worship

Architecture firm: SpaceMatters, New Delhi

Principal Architects: Suditya Sinha, Amritha Ballal, Moulshri Joshi

Location: Bihar Sharif, Bihar, India

Client: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is

Design team: Suditya Sinha, Amritha Ballal, Moulshri Joshi, Divya Manakola, Kanwaljeet Singh, Sony Joshua, Pragya Chauhan, Shashvat Shrotria, Dhriti Nadir, Gaurav Gupta, Harish Singla, Amit Kumar, Yugal Kishore, Bharat Bhushan, Akhilesh Yadav

Site Area: 16,100 sq ft or 1,500 sqm

Project Area: 7.5 acres

One Reply to “Baha’I Temple at Bihar, an award winning proposal by Spacematters”

  1. Let the human connection with higher spiritual virtues prevail understanding laws of attraction towards perfection and excellence as True Human Spirit.

Share your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Symbiosis Hospital and Research Center (SUHRC), Lavale, Pune, by IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

Symbiosis Hospital and Research Center (SUHRC), Lavale, Pune, by IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

The recently completed Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre in Pune is currently being used by the Maharashtra government as a Covid-19 quarantine facility and hospital, contributing to the state’s fight against the pandemic. Occupying the lower slopes of a hill within Symbiosis International University’s 260-acre estate in Lavale, SUHRC is a 41,800-square-metre, 216-bed, multi-specialty hospital that represents a new and progressive face for healthcare infrastructure in India, providing state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and a research centre to enhance skill development – IMK Architects

Read More »

Symbiosis International University, Pune, IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

Nestled atop a rocky plateau in Lavale, a small village on the outskirts of Pune, the Symbiosis International University campus creates an idyllic and vibrant learning environment. The campus, home to 1000 students, houses educational and administration functions for four faculties –– the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, the Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management and the Symbiosis Institute of Photography –– in addition to an auditorium and convention center, a library, and housing, dining, and recreational facilities for students and staff. – Rahul Kadri | IMK Architects

Read More »
National Judicial Academy, at Bhopal, by IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

National Judicial Academy, at Bhopal, by IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

Perched on the crest of a hill in Bhopal, India, the 28,000-sq.m National Judicial Academy is a training academy for Judges, a centre for discussion and debate on the judicial system and an institute for ongoing research on matters of the law. The campus occupies 60-acres of fissured rock-steep slopes on the hill, which was formerly used as a quarry. – IMK Architects | Rahul Kadri

Read More »
Auric Hall,District Administration Building, at Aurangabad, by IMK Architects 

Auric Hall,District Administration Building, at Aurangabad, by Rahul Kadri | IMK Architects

The recently completed Auric Hall stands tall today as a landmark for Aurangabad Industrial City (AURIC), India’s first greenfield, smart industrial city. The 16,660-square-metre building, planned as the face of the upcoming development, houses administration and commercial functions, offering spaces that strive to achieve innovation and transcend expectations. – IMK Architects

Read More »
Southeast Asian culture. an article, by NANDINI BISWAS

Architecture in the labyrinth of South Asian and  Southeast Asian culture. an article, by NANDINI BISWAS

Rapport in 1969 had stated that “The primary determinants of indigenous architecture of any  place are the culture and climate of that place.” The word culture derived from the Latin word  ‘colore’ which means to tend to the earth and mature, blend in and nurture. These are the same prerequisites we believe architecture in its entire existence should abide by and, as Frank O  Ghery had mentioned, “Architecture should speak of its time and place but yearn for timelessness”; this sheds much light on the para-importance of individuality and uniqueness of place and its impact on the people and culture.  – NANDINI BISWAS

Read More »

Subscribe to Architecture and Design Updates