The Bahá’í is a worldwide religion with over eight million followers. The sacred buildings of the Bahá’í are called “houses of devotion” and only eight have been built across the world.
Fourteen years in the making, the eighth house was only completed last year in Santiago de Chile. The Temple of South America is situated east of Santiago at the foot of the Andean mountains designed by the Persian architect Siamak Hariri. The Bahá’ís have the ambition to build their houses of devotion as perfectly as possible and therefore use only high-quality materials. For the temple in Chile the architect had to design a building to span a 400-year life.
True to tradition the Chilean Bahá’í temple has a circular layout and nine entrances. Mounted on seismic isolation pads, the building stands 30 m high, with an elaborate galvanized steel skeleton that supports nine torqued sails of white alabaster and white glass panels. Each of the 2,000 cast panels is unique, so the seismic load had to be tested for each panel. The sails converge above a single open space and mezzanine at an apex 2.7 m wide.
To achieve the structure’s complex, curvilinear forms, the designers innovated in many areas: the early adoption (in 2003) of 3D computer-aided design, 3D printing, CNC fabrication; and conducted four years of materials research to develop the cast-glass cladding conducted in collaboration with Jeff Goodman Studio.
Architect: Siamak Hariri
Image: Tiago Masrour, Bahá’í World News Service