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Prayer and meditation pavilion


Urban and Architectural


The strong symbolic value of the combination of architecture and ethics lent great significance to the construction of the Pavilion of Meditation and Prayer. Set in the hospital garden it is an integral part of the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, run by the Italian NGO called EMERGENCY, a centre that offers free high quality assistance to patients with congenital and acquired surgical diseases. It was no easy task to design a space for prayer, customary in any health care facility, in a state that over the last twenty years had been ravaged by endless inter-ethnic wars, but above all inter- religious ones.

It meant devising a building that could house the spiritual complexity of a country such as Sudan (inhabited by Muslims, Christians, Copts and animists), without giving priority to any form of worship, simply creating a space for the profession of all faiths. Or perhaps, more simply, a meditation space.

History



Description


A Microcosm for All Religions.

The pavilion is a pure volume consisting of two staggered and communicating white cubes, protected by a translucent roof made of palm leaf pith. The interiors, characterized by neutral surfaces painted white, contained two ornamental trees that made these places at the same time sacred and profane, by the presence of a natural element in an artificial space. The few vertical openings along the outer walls allow light to enter, creating delicate patterns of shadow.

A large pool surrounds the pavilion, creating a spiritual gap between the hospital’s outer macrocosm (and the rest of the world) and the ventral microcosm intended for prayer. Two walkways traverse the pool on opposite sides, giving access to the two nuclei of the small building. Water drawn from the Nile and then reused for irrigation is an element charged with symbolic values in the sub-Saharan region. Representing purification in religious terms, it is also the source of life, a vision of salvation in the arid desert, evoking the Garden of Eden.

Though we did not mean to favor any religion, functionally we had to deal with the Muslim religion, dominant among the Sudanese, and the rules it imposes, such as ablution or the separation of men and women. But we set these rituals in an estranging setting which made them non-dominant, concealing all symbols and elements that could be traced to a single faith.

The space for ablutions, for example, is simply a water spray that rises higher inside the pool, an integrating element without any religious connotation, which enables the faithful to perform their ritual ablutions before entering the place of worship. The asymmetric union of the two volumes in turn allows for the separation of the sexes, giving this functional constraint an added value within the balance of a composition that seeks to embody the idea of tolerance in architecture.

Client: Emergency ngo

Design: TAMassociati

Program coordinator: Pietro Parrino (EMERGENCY ngo)

Site engineer: Roberto Crestan (EMERGENCY ngo)

Photo Credits:

Marcello Bonfanti

AKAA-Cemal Emden

TAMassociati



Details

Location

Al-Doha Street, Al Khurtum, Sudan

Owners

EMERGENCY NGO

Architect Name

Studio TAM associati

Year of Build

2007

Drawings

Map

Urban and Architectural

The strong symbolic value of the combination of architecture and ethics lent great significance to the construction of the Pavilion of Meditation and Prayer. Set in the hospital garden it is an integral part of the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, run by the Italian NGO called EMERGENCY, a centre that offers free high quality assistance to patients with congenital and acquired surgical diseases. It was no easy task to design a space for prayer, customary in any health care facility, in a state that over the last twenty years had been ravaged by endless inter-ethnic wars, but above all inter- religious ones.

It meant devising a building that could house the spiritual complexity of a country such as Sudan (inhabited by Muslims, Christians, Copts and animists), without giving priority to any form of worship, simply creating a space for the profession of all faiths. Or perhaps, more simply, a meditation space.

History


Description

A Microcosm for All Religions.

The pavilion is a pure volume consisting of two staggered and communicating white cubes, protected by a translucent roof made of palm leaf pith. The interiors, characterized by neutral surfaces painted white, contained two ornamental trees that made these places at the same time sacred and profane, by the presence of a natural element in an artificial space. The few vertical openings along the outer walls allow light to enter, creating delicate patterns of shadow.

A large pool surrounds the pavilion, creating a spiritual gap between the hospital’s outer macrocosm (and the rest of the world) and the ventral microcosm intended for prayer. Two walkways traverse the pool on opposite sides, giving access to the two nuclei of the small building. Water drawn from the Nile and then reused for irrigation is an element charged with symbolic values in the sub-Saharan region. Representing purification in religious terms, it is also the source of life, a vision of salvation in the arid desert, evoking the Garden of Eden.

Though we did not mean to favor any religion, functionally we had to deal with the Muslim religion, dominant among the Sudanese, and the rules it imposes, such as ablution or the separation of men and women. But we set these rituals in an estranging setting which made them non-dominant, concealing all symbols and elements that could be traced to a single faith.

The space for ablutions, for example, is simply a water spray that rises higher inside the pool, an integrating element without any religious connotation, which enables the faithful to perform their ritual ablutions before entering the place of worship. The asymmetric union of the two volumes in turn allows for the separation of the sexes, giving this functional constraint an added value within the balance of a composition that seeks to embody the idea of tolerance in architecture.

Client: Emergency ngo

Design: TAMassociati

Program coordinator: Pietro Parrino (EMERGENCY ngo)

Site engineer: Roberto Crestan (EMERGENCY ngo)

Photo Credits:

Marcello Bonfanti

AKAA-Cemal Emden

TAMassociati