The House of the LORD explores how contemporary sacred space can use hermeneutics (i.e., the interpretation of texts, buildings, experience, etc.) to transform human understanding. Just as different people experience and interpret their encounters with buildings in distinct ways, designing to evoke a specific meaning, message, or religious experience can prove a challenge to the architect. The complexity of such a challenge, however, is alleviated through a design process that focuses on the interrelationships between architecture (space + form), religion (ideals), culture (traditions), ritual (function), and the environment (geography). The interrelationships allow designers to anticipate the diverse layers of interpretation and thereafter assist in choreographing transformative human experiences.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka. Mormons) serves as the client for this innovative 223,000 square foot mega structure located in the ancient suburbs of Rome, Italy. It combines a temple, chapel (stake center), visitor center, and housing facility to produce one large "House of God." The architecture acts as an ambassador of the religion by expressing the true essence of its principles in weaving sacred and semi-sacred programs to reinforce the idea of community. In a way to allure reticent onlookers (some members + non-members) into the religious architectural experience, tours are given which follow an ascending pathway around the perimeter of the various programs and offer dramatic views to the interior volumes and voids—a concept derived from ambulatories of pilgrimage churches. The Christus gallery at the central core provides a space to meditate, pray, and experience solar phenomena since the design allows sunlight to penetrate and illuminate the statue on specific inter-religious holidays.
The temple program is designed as a building within a building due to the demands for gradations of holiness and a hierarchical order within the rituals (ordinances). Particularly important is the design of the spatial sequence and circulation of the ritual drama which provide an atmosphere for re-experiencing Judeo-Christian episodes of cosmic history. The ritual movements from room to room include descending and ascending, transitioning from dark to light, traversing west to east and east to west, and experiencing spatial compression and decompression. The House of the LORD demonstrates how sacred architecture can become a metaphor of eternal realities, allure visitors into a dialog of coexistence between the sacred and profane, and provide opportunities for transformative religious experience.
For more information, visit: issuu.com/brro/docs/brandon-ro-worksamples-2013
Designer: Brandon Ro
Thesis Advisor: Sasha Ortenberg
Thesis Design, 2010-2011
Department of Architecture
California Polytechnic State University, Pomona