Templum Dei: Exploring the Language of Sacred Architecture


Any study in search of the language of sacred architecture will eventually come to focus its attention on the temple. In fact, the building typology most often referred to by comparative historians of religion and sacred architecture is the temple. Templum Dei, Latin for Temple of God, is a fitting title for an exploration of sacred architecture; for it reveals one of the key functions of religious buildings which serve as a dwelling place, domicile, or house of god(s). In our investigation and discussion, we must seek to answer the following questions as we attempt to learn the language of sacred architecture and art:
  • What is the overarching purpose(s) of sacred art and architecture?
  • What is the role of the architect or artist in producing such sacred objects of devotion or places of worship?
  • What landscape features or areas of a city constitute an ideal site for such a sacred structure?
  • Does the direction a building face really matter? What celestial alignments, if any, should be considered?
  • What message does the ritual order of spaces (i.e., spatial sequence) convey to pilgrims?
  • What design principles convey beauty in sacred art and architecture? Are they similar or different to the classical tradition?
  • What is the role of archetypes, sacred geometry, symbols, proportion, and ornament? How do these features enrich the ritual-architectural experience?

The following questions were debated after an introductory lecture given by Brandon Ro at an Evening Salon for the Utah Chapter’s Institute of Classical Architecture and Art on September 1, 2016.

To watch the introductory lecture, visit: https://youtu.be/4wFF9BHihf4

Other references used for discussion:

Other Short Introductory Videos on the Topic