Natural lighting. We’ve heard it a thousand times, “Turn off that light and open the blinds”. We know that we should, but with so much emphasis placed on the external aesthetics nowadays, it is often difficult to appease everyone and natural lighting, so easily replaced, is often the first thing to go, even with its highly visually pleasing nature internally.
Although many modern buildings are now addressing the need for higher levels of natural daylight, much of Australia’s existing building stock, particularly commercial and industrial buildings, does not. Realistically, these buildings are where office and factory workers spend most of their lives, and natural lighting should take more precedence given its incredible benefits. These include lowering cholesterol, improvement of concentration, improvement to sight, reducing chances of Season Affective Disorder (which is caused by a lack of sunlight, usually over the winter months) and general wellbeing.
While the natural lighting trend is slowly coming back into fashion with the aid of green building promotions, it is still a growing priority for the industry.
One place where natural lighting would not seem to be a major feature is a house of worship. Logically, however, it makes sense for these traditional buildings to not rely on extensive electrical lighting as they stereotypically take their design ideologies from very historical predecessors.
Jaime Varon, Abraham Metta, Alex Metta / Migdal Arquitectos’ Midrash Sumiya is one such building that brings together sacred traditionalism and modernity; a synagogue situated in Juitepec, Morelos Mexico with a foundation of light.
The temple uses lighting to its optimum, creating a space that is both warm and inviting, losing any kind of clinical coldness that can sometimes be associated with religious spaces.
“The temple’s interior creates a warm discourse between light and shade owing to its spaciousness” say the architects.
The interior design of the building stays true to its religious practicality, but offers highly modern and stylised design features including the stunning use of marble, clay and glass on interior surfaces.
“The interior architectural design has incorporated various modifications to fully favor the isoptics and acoustics of the space. These include lighting features, openings in the walls and its own floated ceiling, in addition to ensuring the building’s back wall has been insulated to prevent sound reverberation” say architects Varon and Metta, “The ground plan’s holistic design set out to achieve the perfect isoptic, so that everyone can have a view of the ground floor, where all the religious ceremonies are carried out on a platform, and where the hejal is kept (the closet or chest which houses the Torah scrolls)”.
The thing about the 420 sqm Midrash Sumiya is that it is not simply one dedicated space. Like most houses of worship, this is a mixed use building that offers a split-level space that is able to cater to different community activities, which will be housed in the lobby, and the rabbi’s residence, which encompasses a semi-detached flat with terrace and outdoor garden areas.
Much like The Soho Synagogue in New York, this building is yet another example that design and traditionalism can go hand in hand to create beautiful and architecturally advanced spaces.