The Fourth Temple of Jerusalem

(Student Project)

Savannah College of Art and Design
Julie Rogers Varland,
Nicole Winkler
Business Phone: (646) 752-8428

Project Location: The Old City, Jerusalem, Israel
Completion Date: 06/01/2017

Project Description

The First Temple of Jerusalem was built in 970 BCE and destroyed in 587 BCE. A Second Temple was built 72 years after the first destruction, but was also destroyed after 445 years. The Third Temple was allegedly documented by a prophet named Ezekiel who had experienced the Temple first hand by way of an experiential tour from God, and whether or not this part of the story happened, what has happened is 1,947 years since a Temple has stood in this spot in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The erection of The Third Temple would involve several unfavorable and antiquated shifts in the culture present in the city, including the destruction of The Dome of The Rock at the Temple Mount, as well as the reintroduction of religious animal sacrifices. And aside from these aspects, even though the purpose of The Third Temple, ultimately, is to be a physical representation and home for the Messiah, or Second Coming, it simply does not foster a contemporary, respectful monument for ALL present religions in the Old City– a discriminatory characteristic for an architectural landmark that is meant to unify.

Arguments over land and territory continue to radiate in Israel while so many different walks of life navigate the unique quality of life and city in Jerusalem, but all without an architectural landmark to represent the current age of awareness, and this thesis proposes the solution – a Temple for the Abrahamic religions to find common ground in safety and in light: The Fourth Temple.

The Fourth Temple of Jerusalem is an architecturally honest and contemporary addition to the Old City – providing a non-discriminatory space for members of all religions in the Old City to come together. The Temple is a landmark in many forms – it is a benchmark on one’s journey from one holy site to another, as well as a physical representation of peace in the city – something everyone can see, experience and believe in.

The Fourth Temple is a singular space, with the capacity for three people at any given time. The Temple has three locations that have been chosen strategically for their placement in the city with respect to the three major religious architectural sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Dome of The Rock and the Wailing Wall. The pedestrian circulation path between these sites was ascertained during site analysis and within those busy streets, moments of natural light were identified and then harnessed as a means for energetically and celestially connecting the new Temple sites. Based on the Sun’s path throughout the year, the best time of year for the Fourth Temple to be experienced is on the Summer Equinox, when the sun is at it’s optimal height and can radiate straight down into the Temple sites, providing an overwhelming experience in light – the ultimate representation of the Almighty and a keystone for pilgrimage in the Old City for the current age. The Fourth Temple is a message to the world that peacemaking and place-making are achieved with architecture.

Design Challenge

There were two primary challenges faced during the design process of the Fourth Temple: scale and location. Defining the contemporary cubit was a crucial component to the design of the Fourth Temple of Jerusalem. As the original cubit was used as a unit of measure for the First, Second and Third Temple designs, a current cubit unit had to be identified for the Fourth Temple since the Temple is so unique in its approach. The “middle cubit” was identified as the proper way to understand proportions in the Fourth Temple, as it represents the average – culturally and socially. Using a representative from each of the three Abrahamic religions as models provided validity and strength to the use of the dimension and its actual measurement in the field. The middle cubit is essentially the average length of an arm from the inside of the elbow to the extent of the fist, and was identified using live models. Plaster molds were made of each forearm and concrete replicas were cast as human-scale studies. A large part of the beauty of this exercise was including a member from Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the design process of this unifying architectural icon. Location was a large force in the design process of the Fourth Temple because of how contentious the Old City of Jerusalem is. In order to holistically understand the three Abrahamic religions, specifically in terms of spirituality, history, culture and architecture, it was crucial to notate their similarities and differences on a spectrum, as these religions each originated from the same source, and ultimately, The Fourth Temple was to represent an amalgamation of the three. So while the historical specifics of the religions’ originations were organized, their connection to site was also examined – connections that developed over time as the core values of each culture evolved. But one thing that all three religions can agree on to this day is the location of the holiest site in the world: Jerusalem. All other conflicts between the Abrahamic religions are squashed by this concept - that all three perspectives acknowledge the same physical site as the holiest of all – an irony that continues to strangle the reality of erecting an Abrahamic Temple.

Physical Context

The identified primary route linking the three major Abrahamic sites in the Old City of Jerusalem consists of nine different, pedestrian-centric streets. These streets were recognized in order to understand and respect the existing circulatory fabric of the city. Further analysis of the streets show the inherent life of the street in the Old City, mostly filled to capacity with storefronts and heavy sprinklings of residential settlement. These nine streets inhabit the Jewish, Christian and Islamic Quarters, further physically connecting the communities with their respective traditional foods and fashions, blending within the consistent building material of Jerusalem stone. Along the way, from one site to another, moments occur throughout the route, and can be considered moments of vacancy, as they all experience intersection and junction that typically create new atmospheres with the shedding of light. At these points, for example, a Shuk starkly transitions into a calm residential street, where traffic halts and ancient adornment is easier to spot in the break of the stone walls where the Sun’s light can lay. This primary route contains in itself one street where the energy of the city simply calms, on Misgaf Ladech Street, just west of the Wailing Wall. This street contains in itself the means for additions, as it is architecturally underutilized. The second moment is found parallel to Suq El Qatanin Street, the primary circulatory path that leads one from the Wailing Wall to The Dome of The Rock in the Islamic Quarter. This quite momentous street is called El Wad HaGai Street. Suq El Qatanin Street is a busy linear Shuk along the Temple Mount, and El Wad HaGai is, architecturally, its reciprocal. El Wad HaGai is a simple tunnel, and its exit lands you in the center of the courtyard of the Wailing Wall. The third identified moment is an extension of Shuk Ha-Tsaba’im Street, called Ha Yehudim Street. Shuk Ha-Tsaba’im Street is also a Shuk like the previously mentioned one in the Islamic Quarter, but this one frames the site of The Church of The Holy Sepulchre. This Shuk in the Christian Quarter possesses an equally bountiful linear commerce district, but fades away into Ha Yehudim Street, a mostly residential row; rich with moments of light, breezes and cultural intersection. These three moments in the Old City are special because they embody the intentions of pilgrimage. These places facilitate opportunities to see different people, notice change and memorialize journey and memory in a culturally significant way. These places exemplify the ability to meditate anywhere, the meaning of a journey, and the possibilities of cultural linkage through physical odyssey in a crowded and complicated cultural fabric.