The prayer and meditation pavilion is an integral part of a recently realized Cardio-surgery centre in Sudan on behalf of an italian humanitarian organization, EMERGENCY ngo. The complex is the sole to supply free attendance to patients in a million area of ten million square kilometres and three hundred million inhabitants.
The Popular Republic of Sudan is a country that in the course of the last twenty years has been flagellated from numerous Inter-ethnic but above all Inter-religious wars.
Ethnically Arabs constitute 39% of the population and Africans 61%; from the religious point of view 70% of Sudanese are Muslims, while the remaining 30% are Christians and other religious faiths (Human Rights Watch: Q&A: Crisis in Darfur 05/05/2004).
When we needed to think of a place that could accommodate prayer, as customary in any place of cure, we had to confront ourselves with this difficult dilemma: to think of a space that could host the spiritual complexity of this country.
Our choice was not to privilege any specific religion but to create a space that could accommodate prayer and meditation of all faiths.
The outside is dominated by the great water pool, a strongly symbolic image in this sub-Saharan zone. The pool creates a spiritual separation between the external macrocosm of the hospital/world and the ventral microcosm of the building formed from two unaligned white cubes which are connected by a semi-transparent cover of bamboo canes.
The inner parts of the two cubes are characterized to by two trees that at the same time render these profane spaces sacred for the presence of a natural element inside an artificial space.
We obviously had to confront ourselves with the Muslim religion which is the faith of the majority of the Sudanese and with this religions rules (ablutions, separation of men and women) but we decreased the contextual impact of these rules in order not to render them dominant. This was possible by hiding all symbols and elements that are specific only to one religion. For example the ablution area is nothing more than a higher water spray that, before entrance, allows washing but that it does not have a religious connotation and is perceived as an element of the water pool.