Synagoge

Synagoge

Architect
SeARCH
Location
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Project Year
2007
Category
Synagogues

Synagoge

SeARCH as Architects

Is true architecture not the design of emptiness; the space between walls, floors and ceil-ings, between the materials themselves? Does the opposite not lead inevitably to flamboyance and ostentation, to something that aspires to be more than it actually is? The instable relationship be-tween Judaism and other reli-gions and the dispersal of theJewish diaspora have hindered the evolution of a recognised architectural style. This contrasts with their strong and self-conscious personal identity. While the identity of a church or a mosque is carved in stone, it is usually conspicuous in its absence with regard to synagogues. Ceremonial traditions and rituals present few recognisable reference points for a synagogue’s physical expression. The enigmatic Jewish identity (nesjomme) with its subtle and complex character must therefore play a significant role in the formation of a design. The positioning of the benches opposite each other and parallel to the axis between the Bimah (preaching seat) and the Ark (depository for the Torah rolls), and the use of bright day- light are the most important starting points. In this project, a neutral rec-tilinear ‘volume’ is formed through the optimally efficient use of both site and budget. The hollowing out of this mass, suggests the ‘emptiness’ of the great Sjoel, and lends the building its identity. The Sjoel consists of a large central space, with low extensions on either side under two-tiered balconies. The arrangement of these side spaces, the four balconies above them and the central void above the Bimah suggests the Menorah, the seven-armed chandelier. The Menorah (the light) symbolises the burning bush discovered by Moses on Mount Sinai and is the oldest and most important symbol of Judaism. In the beginning God created light. Without light there is no life.

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