and complexity, intimacy and monumentality; a solid
structure capable of dissolving in light,’ he explains.
‘An investigation into material qualities that embody
light resulted in the development of two cladding
materials: translucent marble from the Portuguese
Estremoz quarries for the interior layer, and cast-glass
panels for the exterior,’ he adds.
The interior artificial lighting, created by Chilean
practice Limari Lighting Design, enhances the
architecture without adding new elements to it. The
only technical fittings that can be seen are located on
the vertical bronze profiles that connect the windows
to the marble petals and have a custom-designed
bronze housing. They create exterior effects and
illuminate the top of the structure.
The main interior illumination is indirect lighting
from the mezzanine with 63 very small elliptical
distribution spotlights that also produce a grazing
effect on the marble petals and highlight their
complex shape. There are two specially designed
decorative luminaires. A pendant lights the stairs and
a reading place, and a floor lamp resembling a candle
complements the general lighting and restores a
human scale to the building.
The temple is the eighth and last to be built by
the worldwide Bahá’í community, of which Hariri
is a member. ‘The architectural challenge was to
create a design that would be welcoming to people
of all faiths and cultures,’ he says. The design was
developed through hand sketches, physical models
and digital technology. ‘Inspiration was drawn
from sources including ‘the magic of dappled
sunshine beneath a canopy of trees, the interwoven
strands of Japanese bamboo baskets, and the
fragmentation of shattered glass,’ he says.
Between dawn and dusk the building is infused with
the wide range of seasonal colours reflected from
Santiago’s sky. At night, the materials allow for an
inversion of light, so that the temple, lit from within,
casts a soft glow towards the mountains.
Opposite and this page: the 2600sqm building is essentially
an open room. The primary materials, walnut for the
mezzanine and bronze for the doors, soften the already
diffuse light to create a contemplative atmosphere
Overleaf: the nine flower-like walls culminate in a glass
oculus. At night the lit effect is inverted