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The Bahá’í Temple of South America, situated in a seismic zone on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, uses light for its spiritual and design inspiration. Its billowing, structurally robust form won a two-phase international competition requesting a nine-sided, domed structure with nine entries—a requirement for the design of Bahá’í Temples. This is the final continental Temple to be built. Designed through physical models in conjunction with state-of-the-art digital technology, the Temple combines advanced engineering solutions, cutting-edge material innovation, and computerized fabrication methods to create a light-filled space for prayer and meditation at once monumental and intimate.
Nine identical wing-like shells spatially define the house of worship. Each is clad on its exterior with thousands of faceted and shaped custom cast-glass panels and on its interior with computer-cut and carved, translucent marble. The cast glass panels - developed in a four year collaborative research process with Canadian artist Jeff Goodman- in combination with the translucent stone, bathe visitors with dappled light. A slim-profile structural steel frame, comprised of hundreds of individually unique engineered members and nodal connections, rests on a concrete substructure set on seismic isolation pads. The project, expected to be completed in 2016, has already received five architectural awards, including World Architecture News Best Building of the Year in 2010, and a Progressive Architecture Awards Citation in 2007.