Recent research trips back to visit multifaith projects in Sweden last week and Switzerland earlier in the year turned up further evidence of the importance of such spaces, not only in those places but in all societies seeking to integrate religious difference and explore and deepen religious intelligence and co-operation.
The shared religious space in the New Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, at the planning stage when I visited in 2013, is really quite beautiful. A simple design by White Architects is enhanced by the beautiful and stunning work of designer Irene Agbaje, was brought to birth by a truly inclusive process of open discussion and debate by representatives from all the major faith groups. People listened to each other: and the result is a masterpiece of inclusivity.
At nearby Saint Goran private hospital there’s another space that combines a remarkable ‘living-dining room’ facility with the prayer space: as a way to cater for hospitality and shared food at key times of year or on special occasions.
Meanwhile the church-mosque in Fisksatra that I first documented on this blog quite some years ago still continues to fundraise, with a big conference in February that I’ve been invited to address. The plans, by Draken arkitektur, are remarkable for their faithfulness both to traditional Christian and Islamic architectural forms. The shared in-between space that I have called a ‘cleaving space’ will facilitate dialogue and joint activities for the benefit of the whole community.
Equally ambitious, but this time in Bern Switzerland, is the remarkable Haus der Religionen: the House of Religions. A very large Hindu Temple, Buddhist Temple (with accommodation for visiting monks), large Muslim mosque, a church for minority Christians groups and a worship space for Alevites are complimented under the same roof by classrooms for language teaching and play space, an Ayurvedic meat-free kitchen where Jews, Sikhs and veggie-vegans can enjoy fabulous food and flexible dialogue and event spaces facilitated by moveable walls that open out or enclose according to need.
These spaces promise inclusive and transformational initiatives for the benefit of all! Go visit!