Faith in the City Symposium: IDEAS Paradise on Earth: Imagining Structures for Religious Experience

Thurs 11 Nov 2.00-6.00pm

PANEL 1: IDEAS Paradise on Earth: Imagining Structures for Religious Experience
Chaired by Abbas Nokhasteh, Openvizor

- Lukas Feireiss: Amazing Grace - On the Religious Building as Bearer of Meaning in the 21st Century (20 mins)

Sacred buildings, more than any other type of construction, are essentially about ideas. It seems as though the sacred space, the abundance of ideas it contains and illustrates, sets it apart from the secular environment. The function of the sacred space is to materialise an abstract spiritual principle through the interplay of form and content. In this process, the building itself becomes the bearer of meaning. Over and beyond its metrical demarcation, the sacred space contains a narrative spatial value per se that cannot be accessed at first glance. Against this backdrop, the talk offers an entertaining overview of recently built religious architectures of all faiths and denominations from around the world, and questions their appellative callings.

- Charlotte, Foreign Architects Switzerland: Another Shitty Day in Paradise (20 mins)

“Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers. This holy army guards my religion.” - Recep Tayyip Erdogan /former Turkish Prime Minister.

Miss-using such statements as evidence, conservative Swiss politicians launched an all-out assault on what they perceived as an ideological invasion, the “Islamification of Switzerland.” Swiss voters shocked the world in 2009 with a nation-wide ban on the construction of minarets, ending centuries of neutrality and effectively declaring a figurative war with Islam, all through symbols, gestures, and underhandedly bigoted propaganda. Upset that architecture was being misused (and under-utilized, considered only as a symbol) in this phony war, FAS launched an ideas competition for an Islamic Center in the center of Zurich. Charging architects with the task of bringing a Mosque to Zurich, and bringing Zurich into a mosque; the competition sought to consider how architecture can expedite social conflict in the city by stitching together disparate programs and people. This talk reflects on the political involvement of architects, provides perspectives on the causes of the notorious ban, and presents select proposals from the Islamic Center competition that call into question the enclosed nature of the historical type, the ubiquitous global economy, and the defensibility of ideas.

- Audience questions