Threshold to the Sacred

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Virginia Tech

In designing a sacred space, the work should be a product not only of the mechanics of the mind but also a response of the heart, and therefore the spirit or soul that an architect must possess. For the soul is the harmony between the two. This is what gets diffused into the work, the subjectivity of which gives it its reality. The work too can then become animate with soul. Mircea Eliade believed that through symbols, the world becomes transparent and transcendence becomes visible. The religious man therefore relies on symbols to recognize sacred reality. "Divine work always preserves its quality of transparency, that is it spontaneously reveals the many aspects of the sacred," which is why the very existence of the cosmic system and everything within presents itself as a proof of divine presence.1 For the construction of a sanctuary, the goal is to be able to perceive what is sacred in the mundane, and then bringing it forth, extracting it, distinguishing it to be experienced sensually. Sacred architecture is what identifies and then exposes these hierophanies.

The site is located on the intersection of Pennsylvania Ave NW and 26th ST NW in Washington DC. For the design development, the story of the first revelation of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is used as a narrative through the project. His search for meaning and retreat into nature, teaches of Islamic monasticism, the path that leads completely inward to a place with no one but God.

"Every road will lead you to this sense of initiation " the light, the secret, are hidden in the place from which you set out. You are on your way not toward the end of the road but toward its beginning; to go is to return; to find is to rediscover." 2

nature, narrative, Architecture, Mosque, sacred