Campus of Religions 

Honorable Mention Award

Architecture: | Mina Yaney
Structural Engineering: Bollinger+Grohmann
Fire Safety: FireX Gresslehner GmbH 
Landscape Planning:
Kräftner Landschaftsarchitektur
Building Services Engineering: Ingenieurbüro Russ
Electrical Engineering: ETHF - Helmut Fortmüller

The skin which unites us: An interreligious community centre

The proposal was developed for the European competition “Campus for Religions” which was announced in April 2020 by the archdiocese of Vienna’s catholic church in Austria and received an honorable mention award. The brief was to design an interreligious space comprising a campus for the catholic pedagogical college along sacral buildings for 8 different religious communities with a 2000m² collective space. The project’s site is situated in Aspern-Seestadt (in Vienna) which is one of Europe’s largest urban development projects.

The building is conceptualised as a skin which acts as mediator between the different religions. As such the architectural design aims to maintain the different identities of the religious communities while simultaneously fusing them into a cohesive interreligious whole.

Emanating from the huge common space, the ground gradually morphs into the college’s facade and roof as a topographical skin. The roof is extended as a 5700 m² continuous sloping roofgarden which connects the college roof with all 8 sacral buildings’ roofs while opening the campus to the public. A sequence of cubic glas domes are incised in the roof above each sacral building’s altar. As such they act as attic windows on the ground floor. On the roofgarden they operate as glass light volumes with inscribed prayers of each corresponding religion. Thereby they make the different religions accessible to the general public while indicating a divine space where all religions intersect.

The roofgarden constitutes a hanging garden as well as a structural and symbolic unifier which, as divine or transcendental space, is conceived as a topographical and programmatic continuity of the “common space” on the ground floor. On the ground zone the religious communities practice their individual and different rituals and prayers while on the roof terrace a place of interreligious unity is celebrated. The green space, “the organic”, is the coupling element which unites all religions through the act of creation. This landscape continuum is hence the “common ground” or the skin that coheres us together. The skin as a mediator, between the environment and physiological processes in the living organism, becomes the identity-establishing principle of the campus.

“The Campus for Religions” acts as a skin between the different religions as well as between the human and the divine. The entire architectural composition constitutes a materialisation of such mediating condition through a hybrid building typology which synthesizes building and park into a new architectural configuration. The park’s large scale creates an architectural composition which on the one hand is perceived as a unity, but on the other hand resides in continual transformation. Hence an evolution-oriented unity emerges which displays the campus’ holistic philosophy.