Born out of an international competition with over 180 entries from 80 countries, the Bahá’í Temple of South America was chosen by World Architecture’s jury of 97 architects and critics as the Best Building of 2010.
This award-winning project is a nine-sided structure with nine entrances that symbolically welcome all people from all directions of the earth to join in prayer and meditation. A very extraordinary structure whose construction should be complete at the end of 2014 is currently being built: It is the “temple of light” which is one of eight Bahá’í temples worldwide.
The monotheistic Bahá’í religion has about seven millions followers, mainly in India, Iran, Africa as well as in North and South America. It took many years to plan the temple. First, the building was modeled using the design software Rhinoceros. Then, the complete 3D model was transferred to RSTAB and RFEM and optimized in close cooperation with the architect.
Finally, Gartner calculated the steel structure in RSTAB and RFEM considering the impact of earth-quakes. Its form and materiality break new ground, drawing on the power of light as inspiration. Nine gracefully torqued wings of cast glass and translucent stone billow like sails, projecting a sublime, ethereal luminescence.
The shape of the temple, resembles a nine-petalled blossom of a lotus flower. The building has a diameter of about 34 m and a height of 30 m. The building is structurally strong. Situated in a seismic zone, the structure’s innovative engineering accommodates ground movement while flexing under lateral loads.
Each wing is formed much like a leaf, whose veins stem from a primary steel structure with secondary branches, thinly veiled, supporting the external skin. Comprised of a steel superstructure, the Temple’s wings rest on concrete rings which sit on seismic isolation pads that separate them from the foundation.
The translucent stone and cast glass panel geometry, determined the approach towards the custom steel superstructure, which, as a result, becomes a space frame following the graciously curved form. This solution responds very effectively to the seismic, wind, and dead load effects and is compatible with the architectural requirements for translucency of the façade system with minimal shadow lines from the structural members.
Location: Arboretum Sur 11,000, Peñalolen, Santiago de Chile, Chile
Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects
Architect-in-Charge: Siamak Hariri
Structural analysis, construction and work (steel and roofing): Josef Gartner GmbH, Würzburg, Germany
Software: Dlubal Software GmbH, Tiefenbach, Germany
Site area: 9.287 ha.
Building footprint: 794 m2
Gross floor area: 2438 m2
Status: in progress
End construction: 2014
Building owner: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada
Image & Text: hariri pontarini architects
Article by Marco Rinaldi