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After successfully using A Pattern Language to create the sacred place I wanted, the experience opened my eyes. What had I done? Why was this important? And, why was it coupled with my interest in Soleri? Only recently have I discovered answers to these questions. Resolution to my confusion began with the discovery of this little known chapel by the Spanish architect Eduardo Torroja y Miret.


Chapel of the Holy Spirit, 1953


Renowned for his pioneering research and development of reinforced concrete for use in thin shell structures, Torroja was also a very spiritual man. Torroja's chapel distilled the church to its essence, an apse. The Apse within a church acts as focal point of worship. It's where the clergy, relics and even the Holy Spirit itself is to be found.


I can not confirm whether Torroja and Soleri ever met or worked together, but it seems highly likely they did. Like Torroja, Soleri also used the apse as focal point in his structures. His original design for Arcosanti is in fact a series of live/work apses with a podium above.


Soleri Apse

Finding this coincidence sparked an insight. Both men were symbolically speaking about Spirit. In essence saying, it could or should be placed in plan.


Using Google SketchUp, I modeled an apse from plan of a church. To my surprise it conformed to Torroja's chapel. The apse raised from plan into 3d seemed to express sanctuary in its original meaning, i.e. a sacred place. Furthermore by extension, sanctuary also denoted a save place; one might even say a safe place to be human.

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