Light Ameliorate: Race/Religious Conflict
Daylight in buildings - Region 3: The Americas
University of Virginia
As a multicultural and multi-faith region, Xinjiang has very sensitive and controversial ethnicity and religion problems. There are up to 13 ethnic groups living in Xinjiang, including Han, Uyghur, Hui, and Manchu. Religions that people in Xinjiang believes are also various, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and so on. The region inevitably generates ethnic and inter-religious conflicts – The suppression of ethnic minorities by the dominant groups and the appearance of religious extremism or even terrorism have plagued this beautiful land for a long time. This project is trying to ameliorate the sharp ethnicity and religion conflict in Xinjiang by reconsidering light in religious spaces.
Traditional religious space can bring people of the same faith together and enhance intra-religious communication between them. The exclusive nature with distinctive religious symbols of a traditional religious spaces greatly impede people out of this religious group, preventing mutual understanding between the believers and non-believers. However, light in those religious spaces is of considerable importance to the vast majority of religions. The light that enters the space not only illuminates the room, but also carries a sacred undertone, bringing a figurative expression of the power that people worship. Light is a crucial element that is shared among different religions, which is also an opportunity for mutual understanding. Light can help to enhance mutual understanding and encourage respect between people of different faiths. It serves as a medium that cuts across the various religious beliefs and brings a sense of connection.
The triangular prism on the south corner is the main focus of the whole space. Through the prism, the sunlight is refracted and scattered to form a rainbow– a special expression of the divinity of light, a symbol of diversity, and a promise of mutual respect and understanding among diverse peoples.
This prism has a rainwater storage. The prism alone is with a 30 degree angle, but when the storage is filled with rain, the water and glass prism together forms a 60 degree prism, which has maximum ability to refract light. This strategy treasures the low precipitation in Xinjiang, connecting religious space to the outer nature environment. As the height of the sun and the accumulation of rainwater change, the way light is presented in the space changes accordingly. The surface that envelops the entire space uses a translucent film material. The shadows of people outdoors will be projected on the surface during the day and perceived by people indoors, while the shadows of people indoors will be projected on the wall at night and perceived by people outdoors, providing a possibility of communication between people inside and outside the place.
These multi-faith installations can be placed on a plaza or bazaar(marketplace), where there is a dense flow of people with a diverse demographic composition, maximizing their effectiveness.