Format and Themes
The goal of the International Symposium on the Architecture of Spirituality in a Multicultural Setting was to explore the nature of spiritual expression as articulated in form and space within a multicultural framework.
More specifically, this general objective was pursued in paper-project-presentation sessions responding to the themes described below. As always in ACS symposia, optional meditation were offered each morning and there was free time for connecting to oneself, other people and the surroundings.
- IDENTITY: As global economics and conflicts accelerate intercontinental migration, many spiritual traditions find themselves striving to secure and maintain identity within a completely new and otherwise foreign context. This theme considered the dynamics of faithfully re-creating the architecture of a spiritual tradition, and/or finding expressions of form, space, and ritual that speak to their adopted landscape.
- SHARING: In many cases, it has not been feasible to carry out spiritual expression with their traditional landscape. This theme gave consideration to such possibilities as accommodations within the workplace, the creation of multi-faith worship centres, and sharing of existing religious spaces by more than one faith tradition as a means to embrace a multi-cultural environment
- CONFLICT: Because sacred sites, buildings, and iconic objects represent primary manifestations of a spiritual tradition, they are often prime targets of sectarian, interfaith, and politically motivated violence. This symposium theme invited to explore the nature of this phenomenon.
- FORGIVENESS: This theme gave attendees a chance to explore the question of how design and location of spiritual space and form can contribute to ameliorating tensions, diffusing misunderstandings, and resolving potential conflicts as we seek to find wholeness and peaceful co-existence.
Other compelling papers that related to the symposium focus but fell outside of these themes were concidered and some accepted for presentation/e-publication.
Two special event took place. One was a keynote lecture by McGill Architecture Professor Alberto Pérez-Gómez. The second was a Sacred Space Tour of Toronto buildings, gardens, and urban settings.
Membership Meeting & Closing Session
The ACS Membership Meeting on Sunday morning was a business meeting that provided a place for members to discuss the organization’s next steps. The second part of the morning was devoted to summarize and reflect on the conversations, findings, and questions revealed during the symposium.