During an intensive week in September 2005, Anders Johansson and Erik Wingquist from the Swedish architect firm Testbedstudio, designed an Interfaith Centre for the Polynational War Memorial project. Their contribution marks the start of the project’s design phase which will continue throughout 2006. This section of the website includes images of the resulting poster, documentation from the design process and an interview with the architects. Interfaith facilities, which are open for practitioners of any faith, often appear in international airports, hospitals and other public institutions where people of many nationalities are passing trough. Interfaith organisations also tend to emerge as peace- and bridge-builders in regions where division along religious lines play an important part in an ongoing conflict.
Why an Interfaith Centre at the Polynational War Memorial?
There are several reasons for the decision to include this type of facility. Since the Polynational War Memorial is intended to be a global institution, visitors to the complex are expected to come from many different nations and cultures. Many of these would be in need for a space dedicated to contemplation or spiritual guidance for their healing process, and an interfaith centre would be the most practical way to accommodate them. The centre will be open for everyone regardless of faith, who want to take part in ceremonies and services, pray, meditate, seek personal consultation or meet debriefing personnel. The centre could also be used for concerts and other events. The furniture that are installed by default in the five main ceremonial halls are designed to avoid association with specific religions. Altars, shrines or symbols that are necessary for specific ceremonies can, however, easily be retrieved from adjacent storage rooms. Read more about the design of the centre in the design specifications.
The spiritual leaders and the staff at the centre are tightly integrated with the memorial’s research groups, its university and negotiation units. Religion is tending to play an increasingly important role in politics today, the knowledge and presence of religious scholars is a necessary component in the memorial’s work to understand, negotiate and prevent conflict. We warmly welcome your comments and opinions on the proposal. Join the discussion in the forum’s interfaith thread, or use the e-mail form to contact us directly.