The Bahá’í faith has followers in more than 100,000 localities in virtually every country and territory around the world. Bahá’í is one of the world’s fastest growing religions by percentage. As of 2002, the Bahá’í faith was established in 247 countries and territories, represented over 2,100 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups, had scriptures translated into over 800 languages, and an estimated seven million adherents worldwide.
Architectural interplay of contradictions
South America’s first Bahá’í House of Worship, or the Bahá’í Temple of South America, was designed by architect Siamak Hariri. “The aim was to achieve interplay of seeming contradictions: stillness and movement, simplicity and complexity, intimacy and monumentality, solidity and yet a building capable of dissolving in light,” said Hariri. “The architectural challenge was to design a sister temple to the existing Temple of North America, while also enabling it to find its own unique presence at the foot of the Andes.”
Five years of construction
After five years of construction, the South American Bahá’í Temple is taking shape and is scheduled to open by the end of 2016. Located in the city of Santiago, the new House of Worship is intended to be a unique place in South America for people who want to pray, meditate or simply admire this architectural masterpiece.
30 m high, nine doors, nine faces, 600 seats
The 30-meter-high building, situated on the hills over an area of 83 hectares, is in no way dwarfed by the amazing view of the capital Santiago de Chile, as the thousands of potential visitors will find out as they enjoy and get to know this new urban milestone. Nine doors, nine sides or faces (the number nine symbolizes a place open to the people, regardless of race, culture or religion), a central dome with the capacity to seat 600, and superlative landscaping are among the temple’s most attractive features.
High complexity work
“Technology has been crucial to making this construction possible, and Sika solutions have played a major role,” says Eduardo Rioseco, Director of the Bahá’í House of Worship in South America. “This is a work of high complexity, with countless challenges. One of them was the manufacture of the molten glass, forming the outer coating of the temple. The work was commissioned to a Canadian craftsman, who after two years of studies and tests was able to achieve the desired result. The craftsman made glass plates, which then had to be cut, and in the case of curved pieces, the glass had to be cast in a mold, which proved another major challenge,” Rioseco said.
3.000 unique elements of steel
While the nine wings forming the temple are identical, each of them is formed by 3000 unique elements of steel, marble and glass, which has implications not only in terms of design and manufacturing, but also for the logistics of shipment to Chile, on-site warehouse organization and final assembly.
The coordination of manufacturing across different countries was another interesting challenge. The glass was manufactured in Canada, the marble was bought in from Portugal, the steel was made in Turkey, and the entire assembly was completed in Germany for later erection in Chile.
Weather resistant thanks to structural silicones
The unusual and spectacular curtain wall assembly was achieved thanks to the technology of Sika´s structural silicones and its specialized Sikasil SG and Sikasil WS lines, which offer high structural and weather resistance. Without question, the major challenges were to specify a system with suitable products that provide structural bonding as well as to thoroughly check the design of every detail and each wing of the structure. This in turn called for a special technology that guarantees permanent cleanliness of the joined surface, anti-tarnish protection and resistance to rain runoff, all of which combine to deliver a delicate aesthetic finishing that is superior to conventional weather silicon.
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