We are all very familiar with the fundamental concept hat light = good, dark = bad. Ittherefore follows that o be ‘in the light’ is to be good, inspired, holy. When
we think of religion it appears very straightforward
that the lighting of a candle is a highly symbolic act
of spirituality, a form of meditation that brings one
closer to a sense of communion with that ‘other’ which
many define as God.
The space in which that candle is lit is very different
in many parts of the world. According to culture and
religion, before one gets to the candle, one can be either
pulled towards the light, immersed in light, or plunged
into darkness in order to find it and appreciate it.
This difference in attitude towards light can be
immediate and obvious, yet a connection between
built forms as well as a connectedness in the history of
religions and their architecture reveals an even more
fascinating relationship with light.
Branches of Christianity and Islam have taken
architectural form from the same starting point of
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – constructed in 537 CE,
it was first a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica and
then imperial mosque – and have gradually evolved
them over the centuries. Where and how individual
scriptures write about light, the differences as to
whether the true light of enlightenment is beyond,
above, around or within, is the liturgical explanation
of how the succession of spaces relate to each other as
an unfolding revelation.