The brief for the Sufi Temple in Newlands, Cape Town, was in the form of two thoughts from the mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan, who introduced Sufism into the western world.
Everything first conceived on the spiritual plane is brought to completion only when made manifest on the physical plane and the essence of the Sufi idea is the awareness of the “Divine in Man”.
To meet this brief the designer envisaged a building consisting of five geodesic domes.
The top dome symbolizes the spiritual level from which life has come.
The lower four semi domes represent the mental sphere, the connection between Heaven and Earth.
The base of these domes, comprising our three-dimensional earth sphere, is symbolized by the curved rough brick walls.
The plan form was based on the cuboctahedron named “Dymaxion” by the American designer Buckminster Fuller. Believing that intimacy is a prime factor in the design of the modern religious building, the designer housed the congregation in three of the lower domes.
The altar which is situated beneath the main dome can be aligned to face any of the three lower domes, and still share its focus with the others. The floor of this dome has a specially designed pattern of ceramic tiles symbolizing the “Breath of Compassion”.