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A MULTI-RELIGIOUS TEMPLE: Evoking sensorial experiences - B.Arch final thesis (Author: Matheus Ximenes / Advisor: Ana Rolim)

THIRD PLACE AWARD International Competition Anonymous.d Spiritual.d: A Spiritual Space in the Contemporary World

The Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), with its 30.000 alumni, gathers people from various cultures, however its campus lacks a building dedicated to religious practices. The proposal focuses on a new temple in the campus aiming towards a neutral ambience and an environment where all beliefs could co-exist.


The design aims to promote sensorial stimulation, in order to tease human perception and emphasize the human senses. This concept suits a multi-religious temple as it strengths its presence in the campus by embodying the idea of transcendence and avoiding religious symbols. The concepts of Life and the Divine, fundamental in every religion, are conveyed through space, movement and sound of water, light (both natural or artificial) and landscape. Each of these elements was carefully addressed and expressed through wall textures, the smell of the plants and a waterfall that envelops the building. The intent was to create a subtle and quiet environment.


Water stimulates senses and connects the individual to one’s own uniqueness. It represents life and composes approximately 50% of our body. It can also be used to cool the temperature inside and outside the building, as well as promote a relaxing sound. As a result, the individual “dives” into the building, passing through a glass portico overlaid by a waterfall. The intention is to promote a change in perception and behavior, allowing the disengagement from the outside world. The Waterfall makes its way to the reflecting pool, which amplifies the tangible presence of water, exposing it to natural forces, such as gravity, wind and light.


The proposed concept welcomes individuals into the building, functioning as a transition between the chaos of the city and the relaxing environment inside the temple. The massing of the building originates from a specific grid system and the principle of linearity, whose structure has 3 long white pre-stressed concrete porticos or “ribbons” that rise towards the sky. These ribbons unfold into the reflecting pool, creating two main spaces: the ceremonial room and the infra-structural components of the project. The building is enclosed in one side by a waterfall and in the other by a glazed curtain wall. The water collected from the rain is pumped from a reservoir and falls through openings into the side porticos.


A large symbolic “lighthouse” emerges from the central ribbon and points towards the sky, having its light filtered by an adjustable blue glass panel. At night it will function as a colorful glow in the Campus, highlighting the presence of the building. The program includes a foyer, a worship hall, management with storage, restrooms, storage for chairs, cleaning supplies and ornaments for services, preparation/meditation room for the spiritual leader and infrastructural areas.


This project received 3rd place award in the international competition Anonymous.d Spiritual.d. that called for the design for a spiritual space in the contemporary world. A video is available on YouTube.

Night view of building

Conceptual models

Diagrams of lighting effects and layout variations

Overall exterior view

Exterior view with reflective pool

Interior view of facing curtain wall towards garden

The waterfall enclosing one of the building façades

View of entry foyer

Interior view of ceremonial space

Modules for individual meditation set in the surrounding landscape

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