Sacred architecture is considered successful when it provides the physical and spatial container that evokes path, procession, prayer, and sacrifice. In this temple a devotee transitions, both literally and figuratively, through a pillared entry portico into a 50x 65 foot column-free glazed maha-mandapa or grand hall, which in turn leads the procession to the garb-griha or womb house. The journey towards the sanctum is always through a progression from light into darkness, from open and large spaces to a confined and small “cave.” Transparency, both literal and phenomenal, incorporates the beauty of nature (the neighboring park and the California light) in the worship experience – key to the Hindu faith.
The Hindu population of the Antelope Valley region near Los Angeles consists of roughly a dozen diverse immigrant groups vibrantly practicing the rituals of their faith. The clients requested a Temple dedicated primarily to Lord Vishnu, one of the major deities of most Hindu traditions and the Supreme God of the Vaishnavite tradition. The clients also requested additional accommodations for 6-8 other deities of the Hindu pantheon as selected by the community, with a traditionalist Temple of northern and southern Indian confluence placed behind modernist supporting facilities designed to inspire younger generations to fervent worship.
Having reviewed numerous precedents, our office chose to design the temple finial after the pattern of a Shikhara found in the Kangra temple district of the Himachal Pradesh region of northern India. The selection pays homage to the cultural attribution of Kangra as a birthplace of Hinduism, noting that the quadripartite Shikara at Kangra is also one of few Indian temples to successfully conjoin the traditions of Vishnu and Shiva worship. This style of temple is also appropriate as a geographically synthetic typology, given similar examples can be found in diverse regions of India, notably Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
We designed the main entrance sequence, or ‘Maha-Mandapa,’ as a series of gateways similar to that of a hypostyle hall, which is a traditional motif found in most classical architectural styles; however, we inserted a modernist glass cube into the space to create a year-round structure that is both transparent and weatherproof. The transparency of the ‘Maha-Mandapa’ thereby inspires the devotee to pass through each portal in cognition of a journey from the profane to the sacred, with the structure of the Temple itself elevated on a plinth.
We designed an interior courtyard that can—depending on future expansion—be enclosed by a wall concealing office space on one side, with additional allocation of social hall space or the future expansion of minor ‘templums.’ The fourth visual wall of the interior courtyard is to be enclosed by landscaped contours. The complex is designed to allow for over 25,000 Sq. Ft. of future expansion.