March 10, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

Students in the architecture program at Texas A&M University worked with Ben Heimsath to kick off their latest studio assignment: the design of an all faith chapel.  Professor Anat Geva’s design studio, working in teams, will design their chapel in a sacred location of their choosing.

Sacred Space Petit Jean Overlook of Arkansas River

To kick off this innovative inquiry, Ben began with an exercise focused on spaces that the students considered to be sacred. Many of these spaces were outdoors. Some were historic monuments. A number of students felt they experienced sacredness in movement or travel.

Ben suggested students consider “the Point, the Precinct, and the Path,” as they analyze sacred spaces. The Point calls attention to a sacred space from a distance. Church steeple or the Hindu entry tower, the Raja Gopurum, are prime examples. The Precinct is an enclosure of the special space. Stonehenge or fairy rings are very basic enclosures, while gothic architecture developed mystical stained glass enclosures. The Path is often associated with processions, yet even quiet meditation spaces with labyrinths or garden paths can be associated with the sacred.

The students will develop their designs over the coming weeks. A final presentation and review will be held on April 6 and Ben will be back to help evaluate the results.

See Ben’s blog - Austin’s Hidden All Faith Chapels.

Ben has also been critical of spaces that don’t meet their all faith objectives:  DFW Chapel - A Critique