Italian architect Studio Tamassociati has designed a minimal architectural prayer and meditation pavilion located in Khartoum, Popular Republic of Sudan. The pavilion is consisted of two white cubes which are attached to each other, and floating on a large water pool that used to create a spiritual separation between inside and outside. The cubes are covered by palm leaf stalks which allow sun light penetration, while casting an interesting shadow effect into interior spaces.
+ Project description provided by architect, Studio Tamassociati
The prayer and meditation pavilion is an integral part of the recently realized Cardiac surgery centre in Sudan, built by the Italian humanitarian organization, EMERGENCY NGO. The complex, planned and designed by Tamassociati architecture studio, is the only one of its kind to provide free health-care to patients in an extensive area within a ten million square km. radius and counting three hundred million inhabitants. The Popular Republic of Sudan is a country that, over the past twenty years, has been scourged from numerous Inter-ethnic as well as Inter-religious wars.
The Arab Ethnic group constitutes 39% of the population and 61% of Africans; and in terms of religion, 70% of people in Sudan are Muslim, while the remaining 30% are Christian or belonging to other religious faiths (“Human Rights Watch”: Q&A: Crisis in Darfur 05/05/2004).
We needed to think of a place that could accommodate prayer, as customary in any place of health-care, so we had to deal with the difficult dilemma of thinking of a space that could host the spiritual complexity of this country. Our choice was not to privilege any specific religion, but to create a space that could accommodate the prayer and meditation of all faiths.
The outside hosts a large water pool, as a strongly symbolic image in this sub-Saharan zone. The pool creates a spiritual separation between the external macrocosm of the hospital/world and the ventral microcosm of the building formed by two unaligned white cubes, which are connected by a semi-transparent cover of palm leaf stalks.
The inner parts of the two cubes contain two trees, which render these profane spaces sacred with their presence, as natural elements inside artificial spaces.
We obviously had to seriously consider the Muslim faith, which is the religion of the majority of the Sudanese, along with the religion’s rules (ablutions, separation of men and women), but we decreased the contextual impact of those rules in order not to make them appear dominant. This was made possible by concealing all symbols and elements that are specific to only one religion. For example, the ablution area is nothing more than a higher water spray that, before entrance, allows for washing without connoting a strong religious symbol, and it is simply perceived as an element of the water pool.
+ Project credits
Project: Prayer and Meditation Pavillion (In the “Salam” Centre for Cardiac Surgery, EMERGENCY ngo)
Design: Studio Tamassociati
Location: Khartoum, Popular Republic of Sudan
Client: EMERGENCY ngo
Program coordinator: Pietro Parrino (EMERGENCY ngo)
Site engineer: Roberto Crestan (EMERGENCY ngo)
Photographs: Raul Pantaleo & Marcello Bonfanti
+ About Studio Tamassociati
Tamassociati is a professional organisation that is active in the field of project development and the realisation of architecture and social communications.
In addition to the experiences and aspirations of its own group members, the organisation started off with the determination and will to make it so intervention techniques that are employed within the territory, which support and promote participatory policies oriented towards the activation of human and social resources, become evermore diffused and incisive. Moreover, the organisation is committed to such policies that strengthen conditions of security, reception and integration in order to favour democratic growth as well as increase awareness on themes of social justice and environmental balance.
Tamassociati is based in Venice and works in an associated format method to bring together professionals from a wide variety of different fields including architecture, urban planning, environmental studies, graphic design and social communications.
As an associated architecture studio it has operated since 1997 with its main studio seat in Venice, Italy. Adhering to the work philosophy of a networked team, tam has always maintained an open structure in order to favour the most ample possible collaboration schemes and participation methods in projects both inside and beyond its own organisation.
This is a choice that has been adopted in opposition to the individual figure of the project designer, in favour of a more marked awareness of the social and collective significance of accomplished work, such as it should be in the phases of creation and development of ideas.
Tamassociati works in Italy prevalently for public institutions and non profit organizations, and abroad, actually developing hospital projects for NGO in Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nicaragua.
Massimo Lepore, architect
Raul Pantaleo, architect and graphic designer
Simone Sfriso, architect
Simona Ventura, landscape architect
Cristiano Silvani, agronomist and landscape architect
Emanuela Not, architect and graphic designer
Laura Candelpergher, architect
Luciano Miotto, architect
Marta Gerardi, comic-strip artist and graphic designer