1st Edition

Water and Sacred Architecture

Edited By Anat Geva Copyright 2023
    316 Pages 173 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    316 Pages 173 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited book examines architectural representations that tie water, as a physical and symbolic property, with the sacred. The discussion centers on two levels of this relationship: how water influenced the sacredness of buildings across history and different religions; and how sacred architecture expressed the spiritual meaning of water.

    The volume deliberately offers original material on various unique contextual and design aspects of water and sacred architecture, rather than an attempt to produce a historic chronological analysis on the topic or focusing on a specific geographical region. As such, this unique volume adds a new dimension to the study of sacred architecture. The book’s chapters are compiled by a stellar group of scholars and practitioners from the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Africa. It addresses major aspects of water in religious buildings, such as, rituals, pilgrimage, water as a cultural material and place-making, hydro systems, modern practices, environmental considerations, the contribution of water to transforming secular into sacred, and future digital/cyber context of water and sacredness. All chapters are based on original archival studies, historical documents, and field visits to the sites and buildings. These examinations show water as an expression of architectural design, its materiality, and its spiritual values. The book will be of interest to architects, historians, environmentalists, archaeologists, religious scholars, and preservationists.

    Introduction: Water and Sacred Architecture 

    Anat Geva 

    PART I: Rituals 

    1. Beyond Baptism: Incorporating Water as a Primary Symbol in Contemporary Roman Catholic Church Architecture 

    Roberto Chiotti 

    2. Water and Ritual Wudu (Ablutions) in Canadian Mosques 

    Tammy Gaber 

    3. Chattri and Kund: The Architecture of Kusum Sarovar, Govardhan, India 

    Amita Sinha 

    4. Sacred Water Architecture for Every Jew: Rabbi David Miller and DIY Mikvah in Charleston, South Carolina   

    Barry L. Stiefel 

    PART II: Water as Material Culture and Place Making 

    5. Architecture, Water, and the Sacred in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace, Greece 

    Andrew Farinholt Ward, Jessica Paga, and Bonna Wescoat 

    6. Roman Waterscapes, Architecture, and Religion: Notions of Sacrality and Sensory Experience 

    Dylan K. Rogers 

    7. Purifying the Stupa: Symbolism of the Lotus Flower in Buddhist Architecture 

    Di Luo and Gerald Kozicz 

    8. The Sacredness of Water and Place: African and Diasporic Religious Cultural Encounters 

    Peter F. Adebayo, Christopher S. Hunter, and Oluwafunminiyi Raheem 

    PART III: Environmental Impact 

    9. The "Sacred" Architecture of Anupam Mishra's Water-Culture 

    Ricki Levi 

    10. Sacredness in the Presence and Absence of Water: The Case of Stepwells in Ahmedabad, India 

    Priyanka Sheth 

    11. Tethering Buddhism to Climate Change: Lessons from the Ladakhi Ice Stupa 

    Carey Clouse 

    PART IV: Water Systems 

    12. Hymn to the Waters: Anāhitā in Ancient Persian Architecture 

    Stephen Caffey 

    13. Tower and Temple: Re-sacralizing Water Infrastructure at Balkrishna Doshi’s GSFC Township 

    Daniel Williamson 

    14. Geothermal Systems and Religious Ethics: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, and First Unitarian Society of Madison 

    Joseph M. Siry 

    PART V: Modern Practice 

    15. Sacredness and Water in Contemporary Japanese Architecture: A Reinterpretation of Ancient Traditions 

    Galia Dor 

    16. Baptistries in Marcel Breuer and Associates’ American Catholic Sacred Spaces 

    Victoria Young 

    17. Strength in Weakness – Daoist Waters and the Architecture of the Xinjin Zhi Museum 

    Ariel Genadt 

    Epilogue: The Expression of Water in Virtual Sacred Architecture: The Case of a Virtual Baptism 

    Nesrine Mansour



    Anat Geva, PhD, a registered architect in Israel and Associate Member of the AIA, is Professor Emerita of Architecture in Texas A&M University, and the College of Architecture Outstanding Alumni. She taught design; history/design of sacred architecture; history of building technology; and historic preservation. She published many articles and three books: Frank Lloyd Wright Sacred Architecture: Faith, Form, and Building Technology (Routledge, 2012); Modernism and American Mid-20th Century Sacred Architecture (Routledge, 2019); and Israel Architecture as an Experimental Lab for Modern Architecture: 1948-1978: with Inbal Ben-Asher Gitler (Intellect Books, 2020). Geva's forthcoming book The Architecture of Modern American Synagogues (1950s-1960s) is currently in press (Texas A&M University Press). She also has an extensive record of editorial work: being a co-editor of Arris, and founder and co-editor of Preservation Education & Research. She is a recipient of several awards and research grants including the prestigious James Marston Fitch National Award for innovative research in historic preservation.