Photo: Ian David (All photographs courtesy of RAIC)

The Bahá’í Temple of South America, designed by Toronto's Hariri Pontarini Architects, has won the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Innovation in Architecture Award for 2017.

Photographs clearly depict the undeniable appeal of the remote building, which accommodates up to 600 worshipppers and took fourteen years to complete. The design comprises nine monumental wings, or veils, in translucent stone (inner layer) and cast glass (outer layer) that admit soft light during the day and glow like a lantern at night. The wings are structured from hundreds of unique slim-profile steel members and nodal connections between the two layers.

Generally, the Innovation in Architecture award recognizes "exceptional architectural innovation" in "research and development, applied use of new technology and adaptation of existing technology, ... new project delivery and construction methods, advanced design processes and fresh approaches to details and materials." The Bahá'í Temple appears to fit each of these areas.

According to a statement from the RAIC, the project "reflects innovations in materials, technology, and structure," including the "21,129 unique pieces of both flat and curved cast-glass pieces [that] were produced and assembled to create each of the nine wings." Furthermore, "The studio looked beyond the traditional three-dimensional visualization software used by the architectural industry, toward modeling platforms geared to fabrication and manufacturing [CATIA]."

Lastly, advanced fabrication techniques included the "prefabricated pieces for the structure and cladding [that] were produced in multiple countries using advanced fabrication techniques, then shipped and assembled on site. The steel superstructure, for example, was made in Germany using CNC plasma cutting and 5-axis CNC milling machines."

The award will be presented at the RAIC/OAA Festival of Architecture, which takes place in Ottawa 24-27 May 2017.

Photo: Vanessa Guillen

Photo: Justin Ford

Photo: Guy Wenborne

Photo: Sebastian Wilson Leon

RAICChileHariri Pontarini Architects