Coming Together... A Universal Sacred Space Open Access
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Throughout history religion has often been the root of conflict among people. Dissonance has not only existed among people of different religious groups but also among various sects within a religion. Commonalities and conflicts co-exist in the different religions; this thesis focuses on the commonalities that unite people rather than the conflicts that divide. Spirituality is the commonality that binds all the religions. In the society we live in today, there is a need to establish a common bond where people of all faiths, beliefs and ideals can come together in search of spirituality. The Temple, the Mosque, the Synagogue, and the Church are exclusive spiritual spaces serving people of specific beliefs and are not based on the shared principles of all religions, universal spirituality. There is a perceived need for an all inclusive interfaith sacred space catering to pure spirituality, the commonality among all religions.The aim of this thesis is to create an all inclusive sacred space for mankind, where people of all faiths and ideals can come together to discover themselves and their own spirituality. The design is based on the subtle commonalities of the spaces of the five major religions i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, the perceptions of the people, and existing interfaith sacred spaces. The research establishes the commonalities in the character of spaces of the places of worship of the five major religions and existing interfaith sacred spaces. The methodology for research consists of a study of existing scholarly papers and books about religious spaces, religious conflict, interfaith movements and visits to the several places of worship of various religions. The study is narrowed to contemporary religious buildings. The study also includes interviews of people of different age groups and religious backgrounds to understand their perceptions and beliefs for a sacred space.The site for the interfaith sacred space is located in the Washington DC metropolitan area, the capital of USA, a melting pot of people of different religious beliefs and cultures from around the world. Research for an ideal site indicated that it should be accessible to a large diverse community, near or in an urban setting. The sacred space should be a sanctuary of peace, an escape from the noise and chaos of everyday life. The site selected fits this criteria and is located right of the Northwest section of the capital beltway, on the border of Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia, in Montgomery County, Maryland. The all inclusive universal sacred space based on this research will be a welcoming and harmonious sanctuary of peace and spirituality where everyone can feel safe and comfortable to share or practice his religion and learn about the various religions of the members of his community.