Baha'is in Chile announce call for Temple designs

September 12, 2002

SANTIAGO, Chile — The national governing body of the Bahá'í community in Chile has called for submission of designs for a continental Bahá'í House of Worship, to be built southeast of Santiago. The building will be the eighth House of Worship in the world.

The call comes after an announcement in 2001 by the Universal House of Justice that efforts should begin to build what would be known as the "Mother Temple of South America". Submissions are open not only to Bahá'ís, but to all qualified designers.

The announcement letter, from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile, specifies some of the design requirements of the building. Like all of the other Bahá'í Temples, must be nine-sided and it also should have "an auditorium for worship seating five to six hundred people" with a dome of a height of "40 to 45 meters." Design submissions should also include basic landscaping features. The surrounding gardens are a key feature of the other Temples.

The design of each of the existing Temples has been unique, and most are reflective of the culture of the land in which they have been built. The most recognizable of the Bahá'í Houses of Worship throughout the world is the "Lotus Temple" in New Delhi, which has won many architectural awards for its design, modelled after a lotus flower.

Funding for the construction will be provided by the Bahá'ís in Chile and voluntary donations from local and national Bahá'í communities around the world. Though Bahá'í Houses of Worship are open to all, the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith prohibit acceptance of funds from non-members.

There are currently seven Temples: in the United States, Uganda, Australia, Germany, Panama, Western Samoa, and India. The House of Worship in the United States, located in Wilmette, Illinois, was the first one of these to be dedicated, in 1953. The most recently completed was the Indian Temple, in 1986.

The Temples themselves are meant to be not only beautiful structures but also places to commune with God in silence and reverence. Their Arabic name, Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, means "dawning place of the mention of God."

In the future, each Bahá'í House of Worship will be the central feature in a complex designed to provide a variety of community services, such as health care and education, open to use by followers of any religion.

At the present time, many have also become attractive destinations for tourists. The Temple in New Delhi receives approximately 12,000 visitors per day.

The letter announcing the call is available in both English and Spanish on the Web site of the Bahá'ís of Chile, Designs are to be sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile, Casilla 3731, Santiago 1, Chile.

So far, responses have been received from more than 60 architects in 30 different countries. The National Spiritual Assembly will review the designs after the 30 November submission deadline.