1st Edition

The Sacred In-Between: The Mediating Roles of Architecture

By Thomas Barrie Copyright 2010
    288 Pages 132 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 132 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The sacred place was, and still is, an intermediate zone created in the belief that it has the ability to co-join the religious aspirants to their gods. An essential means of understanding this sacred architecture is through the recognition of its role as an ‘in-between’ place. Establishing the contexts, approaches and understandings of architecture through the lens of the mediating roles often performed by sacred architecture, this book offers the reader an extraordinary insight into the forces behind these extraordinary buildings.

    Written by a well-known expert in the field, the book draws on a unique range of cases, reflecting on these inspiring places, their continuing ontological significance and the lessons they can offer today. Fascinating reading for anyone interested in sacred architecture.

    1. Introduction  2. The Middle Ground of Interpretation: Phenomenology, Hermeneutics and the Sensory Experience of Architecture  3. Practices of Connection: Applications of Transcendentalist and Buddhist Philosophies  4. Meditating Elements: Symbolism, Religion and the In-between  5. Symbolic Engagements: The Media of Architecture  6. Earth and Sky: Place and Primordial Architecture  7. The Sacred Path and Place: Spatial Sequences and Symbolic Narratives  8. Ordering the World: The Symbolism of Proportion and Geometry  9. Perfected Worlds: Cosmograms and Connections  10. Conclusion  11. Closing Thoughts: Personal Experiences of Place


    Thomas Barrie is Professor of Architecture at North Carolina State University whose scholarship on the symbolism, ritual use, and cultural significance of architecture has taken him to sacred places around the world. He is an award-winning architect and the author of Spiritual Path - Sacred Place: Myth, Ritual and Meaning in Architecture (Shambhala Publications, 1996).

    "Once again, Thomas Barrie's wide-searching approach to sacred architecture integrates scholarly ideas from philosophy, the history of religions, art and architectural history together with insights drawn directly from numerous religious traditions. Bold generalizations and broad theoretical insights are balanced with careful attention to specific historical cases, which range across Europe, East Asia and pre-Columbian America.

    Commitments to 'pan-cultural' comparison enable Barrie to find significant parallels among Christian, Native American, Korean Zen, and Ottoman Islamic approaches to architecture and symbolism. Attention to architecture as a 'cultural artifact' and thus to the relevant socio-political and economic factors, is balanced with even greater attention to the existential meanings and ritual usages of religious constructions. Moreover, special attention to the 'multi-sensual' experience of architecture requires him to augment abundant textual resources with his own highly personal experiential impressions of the places and buildings under consideration.

    The end result is a venturesome and optimistic book that not only encourages reconsiderations of historical architectures but, even more, challenges practicing designers to capitalize on what Barrie persuasively argues is architecture's immense potential to enlarge and improve human life."

    Lindsay Jones, Department of Comparative Studies, Ohio State University

    "The Sacred In-Between’s exemplary text and wonderful images will appeal to readers interested in a sense of the sacred or re-enchantment of the world. Barrie freshly examines distinctive places and architecture while simultaneously emphasizing what is shared across space and time—an important accomplishment in our era of non-understanding and intolerance. The book develops the substantial theme of architecture as a means of spiritual mediation in a clear and lively manner so that we are able to make the most of the author’s expertise, experience, and holistic approach."

    Robert Mugerauer, College of Built Environments, University of Washington 

    "Unusually inclusive and penetrating, Barrie’s book on sacred architecture will go a long way toward restoring our sense of architecture’s full range and fundamental subject matter. Examples from different parts of the world are examined in this book, as are instances of both professional design and un-schooled craft. Philosophers and theologians have their say, but in translation, which makes the text eminently readable for architects. Avoiding the easy alternatives of doctrinaire traditionalism and un-reflective instrumentalism, this account of the in-between reality of architectural order and meaning clears a path for designers and scholars who seek ways of working that are at once personal and profound."

    David Leatherbarrow, University of Pennsylvania School of Design