Sacred Architecture : Place of Knowledge, Space of Silence

Fourth year • 2012 • Paris La Villette School of Architecture

Objective : On this class, we tried to approach the notion of Sacred Architecture, by designing a project from the personnal drawing of a mandala, using the combinaiton of the circle, the square and the triangle.

Personal mandala


A project in front of the Taj Mahal, India


Shantee Vidyaa Mahal

We were free to make our own programm for this project. The Taj Mahal is a place that gathers people from all over the world. Thousand of tourists, pilgrims and locals are coming to admire this sacred Palace, considered as the most beautiful representation of the love of a man towards his wife. The Taj Mahal acts like a magnet, attracting all the cultures on a single point, coming to celebrate love and unity. It’s in this spirit that I thought my project. The Shantee Vidya Mahal - Palace of the Knowledge, Peace and Silence in hindi - would take advantage of the Taj Mahal’s attraction to create a place similar to an ashram, where people would gather in a community in order to share their knowledge and learn about other cultures.


From mandala to architecture


By Sacred, one has to understand not religious, but spiritual. Drawing a mandala is being considered as a powerfull way to reach spirituality. Our first work was to experience this by drawing and coloring our own mandala. The next step was to imagine the architectural project in front of the Taj Mahal in India, using our drawing as a guide.


Unite & Share


Using the main lines of my personnal mandala, I was able to create an harmonious plan design. Strating from the first mandala of 300m wide, I interlocked a new mandala to create the closed space of the Shantee Vidya Mahal. Then I highlightened the golden triangle and tree circles linked by the it. The triangle becomes the parc, joining and dividing the other entities : entrance in the south circle, dormitories in the west, library and meditation rooms in the north circle, amphitheatre in the east, and the fields, kitchen and restaurant in the south-east.


Welcome & Guide


The majestic entrance welcome the future residents toward the site, guided by a long wall framing the landscape. On the west side of the entrance circle, an ascending wall containing steps allow the tourists coming to admire the Taj Mahal from this side of the river.


Communicate & Live

On the west side of the site takes place the meeting hall and the residences. Oriented towards the city of Agra - Men, the World, its People - this place encourage communication and opening to one another, but also to rest and relax. These buildings are surrounded by a small parc with trees, creating more intimacy. The residences offers a various size of rooms, from the single bed to the dormitory.


Work & Contemplate • Teach & Learn


As this place is almost self-sufficient, and has a participatory approach, the residents are taking part of the work in the fields and the cooking. This place is oriented toward the Taj Mahal, giving a direct view of the Palace while working.

The amphitheatre, meant for meetings, is placed side by side to the restaurant, and takes advantage of the high wall so that movies can be projected.

Read & Meditate


This is the main place of the Shantee Vidya Mahal. Within a circle, it contains the park with the Banian tree on one side, and the Palace of Spirituality and Knowledge on the other. Interlocked with one another, the mediatation room and the library works as a whole.


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