Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria S Giudici

In architecture, ‘sacredness’ is either ignored as an irrational sphere, or it is reduced to stereotypes of spirituality and contemplation. However, in its attempt to reconnect architecture to the political, this year Diploma 14 investigated the issue of sacred space precisely as one of the most intense manifestations of the political. If the political concerns difference and conflict as collective phenomena, it is within the category of the sacred that this concept acquires its most intense representations. We can speculate that the very origin of the city as political space was precisely the foundation of a sacred space – a sanctuary, which was set apart in an open territory and provided a safe meeting point for clans or fugitives. The sanctuary was both open to different subjects and parties and closed in order to preserve its safety and difference towards everything outside itself. The dialectic of openness and exclusion implied in sacred space is thus one of the most ancient manifestations of the political. 

The work of the unit departed from an in-depth study of the category of the sacred from ancient to contemporary times, with a strong focus on theological concepts and forms of worship as foundations for the political and spatial organisation of the city. Through 14 projects that address different religious communities and their relationship with their urban environment, the unit explored how sacred space highlights the crucial link between architecture and the city. Emphasis was placed on the relationship between space and the spatial understanding of worship. Within sacred space, form must follow function – in other words architectural space must adhere to the rituality through which the sacred is enacted. Each project was developed through drawings and texts that investigated the theological and architectural underpinnings of the architecture of sacred space.


Unit Staff

Pier Vittorio Aureli

Maria Shéhérazade Giudici


Thanks to

Aristide Antonas

Monia De Marchi

Tom Emerson

Eugene Han

Max Kahlen

Adrian Lahoud

John Palmesino

Natasha Sandmeier

Tom Vandeputte

Carlos Villanueva- Brandt

Thomas Weaver

Alessandro Bava

City of God - Monastery and Megachurch in Detroit

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In the context of a bankrupt city, the project is a machine which isolates islands of Grace from the sea of Evil of sprawling urbanization. Sacred space is unveiled as one of the foundational elements of the American city (morally-politically-spatially), and a device to organize communities before and beyond the secular imperatives of production.The Temple of Jerusalem is the ur-type which is used to order the shrinking of Detroit at the urban scale, the spatial liturgy of the monastery, and the symbolic form of the Megachurch.