CITY OF SPIRITS: Bringing spiritism and architecture together
(Author: Rafaella Campos / Advisors: Ana Rolim and Robson Canuto)
Winner of Faith & Form/IFRAA Awards program for Religious Art and Architecture, student category award.
The North American magazine Faith & Form and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) awarded 28 religious architecture projects in 2016, classified into 10 categories. The winning submission in the student category was City of Spirits by Rafaela Paes, from the Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP), advised by professors Ana Luisa Oliveira Rolim and Robson Canuto. Two central aspects motivated the proposal: First, the need to adapt the facilities of the Spiritist Federation of Pernambuco to its growing public, and, second to speculate on the relationship between the architectural artifact and the divine.
How can architecture create the atmosphere that a temple requires? Through phenomenology the project examines the relationship between human experience and space, seeking to establish 'an atmosphere' as the essence of the place where light plays a key role. According to Juhani Pallasmaa when we defocus our vision we can only see light and shadow, leaving the mind free for reflection, sharpening our other senses.
In order to address this, the building was dematerialized as it went upwards, so that each floor would correspond to the intellectual and moral development achieved throughout the study and the spiritist practice. The luminous effects identified by Plummer (2009) were applied in this vertical evolutionary process. By adopting Plummer's effects to accentuate the relationship between light and matter, the atmosphere rose from a solid, darker ambience on lower levels to a maximum diaphanous state at the top of the tower, where a sensorial observatory was located.
This process began with crystal veils effects (diffused light), followed by luminescence (light and matter merge), atomization (transgression of light through the perforated layer), procession (the light indicates the path), channeling (the light passes through hollow matter), evanescence (the passage of time reflected in projections of light on the surfaces), finally reaching the environmental silence (light completely passes through glass and the inner layer), thus ending the dematerialization of both man and the building. The process is a metaphor for the destruction of the old, materialistic man, which is replaced by the construction of the new, spiritualized man (or, in this case, the new building).