Bahá’í Temple of South America awarded a 2020 Governor General Medal

April 30, 2020 — Siamak Hariri, Justin Ford

TORONTO, April 30, 2020 — The Bahá‘í Temple of South America, designed by Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects, is a recipient of a 2020 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture. Presented every two years, this award recognizes and celebrates outstanding design by Canadian architects.

Set within the foothills of the Andes on the eastern edge of Santiago, the Temple is designed to express a central tenet of the  Bahá’í Faith – unity in diversity. Using embodied light as its inspiration, the Temple is composed of nine, gracefully torqued wings that are bound to a central oculus. Featuring an interior of translucent Portuguese marble and an exterior of cast-glass panels, the building shifts with a mesmerizing play of light, material and surface.

Once inside, the interior is a soaring space. Bathed in soft light that changes throughout the day, visitors are invited to sit in quiet contemplation and share in the communal act of being with one another.

Achieving the structure required to weather the rugged climate of this earthquake-prone region for the mandated 400 years was an extraordinary process that involved the hands of many: artisans, engineers and craftsmen from Canada, the United States, Europe and Chile; and countless global volunteers.

The Temple has grown to hold an important place in the Chilean community, hosting community clubs, youth outreach programs, and children’s activities in partnership with public schools. Since opening in October of 2016, it has welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors from around the globe.

Expressing a faith of inclusion, the Temple is more than just a story of complex design, innovation, sustainability, and construction. It is the embodiment of a community’s aspirations and a belief that even now, in the fractured 21st century, we can respond to a human yearning to come together, to connect to one another, and to participate in something that moves the spirit.

“This building is brave, unexpected, and playful, a spectacular beacon on a hillside outside Santiago, Chile. The jury admired the translucency and magical complexity of its form, whose idiosyncrasies and deviations grow organically from a controlled radial geometry. This level of technical virtuosity is unusual coming out of Canada’s architectural production, which makes the Temple a good envoy for promoting Canada’s design expertise on the world’s stage.”–  2020 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, Jury Comment

For more information, please contact:
Kevin Boothe, Interim Director of Communications
Hariri Pontarini Architects