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A religious perspective to design

By Gerard P Williams
04 March 2003

Hormoz Bastani is a Persian architect who visited Samoa last week to share a religious perspective on architecture.

He said yesterday that he was in Samoa to present a seminar and to look at some of Samoa’s traditional architecture.

His week in Samoa was part of his 30 years of travel, and Samoa is the 87th country he has visited.

The main purpose of his visits is to speak on how religions influenced architecture through the ages.

During his brief visit he presented a seminar on ‘Religion, Civilization and Architecture’ on Friday, 28 February, 2003.

He also commented that the Bahai Temple at Vaoala is a feature well known to the International Bahai Community.

He said it was proof of the strong Samoan support for the faith.

“Locally, the Bahai Community is large and strong in comparison to other countries of the world,” he explained.

He said that the seminars he presented were for the benefit of all especially non-Bahai.

Its design and the landscaping were something he felt very strongly about.

The temple had the features of all Bahai Temples, nine sided building, with nine doors and a dome as a single focal point.

The focal point was the top of the dome and it signified the religious belief in a oneness of God.

Mr Bastani explained that religion held a lot of aspirations for design.

His presentation in Samoa covered examples from history of how religion inspired people to build places of worship with particular designs.

All of these developments in architecture were part and parcel of what he called the advancement of civilization.

He said that all the buildings of the world were built for a reason.

It was for this reason that different religions had special features to the design of their places of worship.

Although he himself had not designed a Bahai Temple before, he was entered in a Bahai Temple Design Competition for Architects.

The competition is run by the Santiago Institution of the Bahai Faithunder the auspice of the Chiliean National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai.

He didn’t know when the results of the competition would be released but hoped for the best.

The travel he has done over the years has also been to study indigenous architecture.

Coming to Samoa he wanted to look at the traditional architecture and its design.

One of the features of his journey was the traditional home of the late Counsel of Deputy member, Honourable Matai’a Visesio Europa II, in Vaimoso.

The use of the coconut signet, sago palm thatches and the high dome shaped roofs were appropriate for the Samoan environment.

“The architecture was very significant,” he said. “They are so open and cooling. The material used in construction is an example of beautiful use of materials.”

He explained the traditional Samoan designs are now used in a lot of modern architecture for these special qualities.

“Government should look at protecting this building and others like it because of their historical significance,” he explained.

Mr Bastani said that he thoroughly enjoyed his trip to Samoa.

He hoped sometime to return to Samoa and visit Savaii as he was unable to, due to his busy schedule. The rest of his Pacific travels will take him to New Zealand, Australia and other Pacific islands.

His current journey will take him away from his home in Houston Texas for three months.

Looking at his past endeavors he said that he had some really good experiences and some not so good.

A highlight of his travels was getting to see the rich diversity of the people of the world.

He said around 80 percent of the world’s people were very good and wanted only to look after their families.

The other 20 percent were those who manipulated politics and religion for their own gains.

One of the worst experiences he had was being robbed in Spain.

But at the end of each of his trips the satisfaction was returning home knowing that he had had a great experience.

©Copyright 2003, Samoa Observer (Samoa)

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