First, there is an interesting exhibit on religion and media going on at ZKM right now – if you happen to be in Karlsruhe, check it out.
Second, there is a study involving apparently eleven or twelve architects going on to “redesign” Mecca…
“the scheme for Islam’s holiest city could create a huge new structure around the central Haram mosque that will eventually be capable of holding three million people, making it the ‘highest occupancy’ building in the world.”
I have previoiusly blogged my horror at development in Mecca, but I think that this is the right direction to take. Instead of splitting up the city piecemeal to developers able to make profits overlooking your temple, enlist the help of some people who might have good ideas how to let the developers make money hand over fist while still respecting the character of the place – and this is a very important place.
I find it interesting that both of these items come to my attention on the same day – one is an exploration of the “virtual” spaces of religion, and the other the opposite, a negotiation of edification itself. With their acorporeality and otherworldly aspirations, religions have always been primed and waiting for mass media.
But property development and the definitions of the city and its spaces have changed so drastically with the modernist experiment that there still needs to be a constant redefinition of how city structures, physical form, and dumb logistical realities of building a gathering place for a 3 million people. That’s a temporary population greater than the permanent population of say… Chicago. So virtuality necessitates that the edification that we do undertake matters so much more.
In the fall of 2002, Mark Stankard ran a very good studio at USC whose aim was to be an exploration of ways to foster communication between the community, the University, and the adjacent Ibn Al Khattab Mosque. In a lot of ways, this studio changed my life and views, as a significant educational program is capable.
And because of it, I have a certain interest in and affinity for the interface of a cautious and conservative group such as the mainline of a religion and the morally complex questions and challenges of modernity. So the discussion of mediating development in a modern sense in places that are by their nature conservative is very necessary in today’s world. And as a final thought and self-promotion, here are my portfolio pages from that semester. And the rest of my portfolio is here.