Sustainable Mediterranean Construction

Sustainable Mediterranean Construction



Mariateresa Giammetti


Space for prayer, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Silence, Light

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In Berlin, in 2006 it was born the project “The House of One”, a place for prayers opened to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The project expresses the European cultural change and the architectural transformations in this “age of migration”, where religious identity is often synonymous with conflict.
As Berlin, also Aleph bets on the possibility of designing a space for prayer for the three Abrahamic confessions, but unlike Berlin, where there are three separate spaces, connected by a common place, Aleph investigates the possibility to design only one space, to use at different times, according to the liturgical calendar of each religion. The research is based on two hypotheses: 

  • to disperse the iconographic symbols, traditionally represented with painting and sculpture, as a condition for mutual acceptance and to use only the light and the shape of space to express the idea of the irruption of the sacred; 
  • not to reduce church, mosque and synagogue to only one undifferentiated space, but to express the differences not through the shape of the building, but through the different positions that each Assembly of believers takes during prayer, namely through the shape of the Assemblies. 

To give the Assemblies the task of bringing meaning to places for prayer, is a high degree of theoretical reflection that the sacred space of contemporaneity could offer. Supporting this distinction is not only highly innovative, but it is also important for what’s the primary responsibility of those who do research on architectural composition: architecture. Aleph’s research has many disciplinary implications, anthropological, political, philosophical and even exquisitely compositive implications. In this article, however, a specific aspect of the research will be addressed: the dispersion of the iconographic symbols of tradition entrusted to painting and sculpture. Silence can be read as absence. Is it possible to silence the figurative and iconic symbolic apparatus of the three religions and use their absence to increase the expressive power of light and let light give life to space, to suggest the irruption of the sacred? Silence, light and void become the protagonists of this different idea of understanding spaces for prayer.
To build the distinctive brands of each of the three spaces, every identity will be based not on style, namely not on the art of transforming matter into symbol, but every identity will be based on character, which is the capacity of the space to accept only one faithful or the whole Assembly in prayer, whose disposition is the means to relate that space with its purpose: the relationship with the divine.
This is a good point of view, clearly tendentious, to understand better the change of the space for prayer of the three religions gradually taken place in the architecture history of the twentieth century: this transformation of the symbolic compositional techniques has already taken place for all three religions. This mutation is clear in many of the new projects of spaces dedicated to worship, be they Christians or Muslims or destined for synagogue space.
The symbolic weight of the traditional figurative/iconic apparatus has progressively diminished; instead, space and light have increased their power to give life to what only the celebratory substance can generate in the imagination of the Assembly in prayer.


SMC N.07 2018



003_VIEW Soundscape and Sustainable Construction
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024_ The Sound in the Perceptive Synesthesia of the Landscape
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028_Great Achievements in Room Acoustics: a Subjective Point of View
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035_Ancient Roman Amphiteatres Used for Modern Shows: Acoustics and Problems
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044_The “Good” Acoustics of the Ancient Theaters. Epidaurus Phaenomenon
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050_Silence, Light and Space. Aleph, a Space for Three Abrahamic Religions
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058_Building Acoustics Design: the Role of Materials and Systems
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062_”This Music is Noise!”. Reflections on Possible Relationship between Music, Noise and the Environment
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067_Soundscape and Public Space. Strategies and Technological Devices for a Better Urban Soundscape Quality
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071 _Acoustic Barriers. A System for Reducing Noise and Environmental Impact in Urban Areas
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080_Traffic Noise in Urban Environment: a Review of the Current Research in Greece
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084_Noise In Schools. A Systemic Approach to Improve Acoustic Comfort
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089_Protection from Acoustic Pollution in the Sites of Community Importance (SCI) of Campi Flegrei
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093_Modification of the Acoustic Response of Wood Claddings Though Localized Application of Resonators and Dampers
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099_Soundscape and Environmental Design. Towards Defining a Method
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