The Temple of Life
Concept and design by Royce Carlson
To achieve this goal the temple uses elements from sacred structures around the world and of all religions. There are certain basic architectural elements common to almost all temples and churches. First, it will be designed according to the way ritual space is constructed. A ritual space has a boundary within which things are meant to be “different.” A ritual space has a focal point (or points). The temple of life will have three altars as focal points.
The temple will have four equal-sized bays or mini-chapels connected to a central atrium which is twice the height inside as the mini-chapels. The bay on the east side will be the entrance. The other three bays will be oriented toward the other directions – south, west, and north. The symbology of “four” from many sources will be integrated and applied to the decoration of each of these bays. We will start with Navajo symbology because the land on which this temple will sit is the land that the Navajo people belong to. As seems to fit, we will add appropriate design elements from other traditions into each of the mini-chapels.
On top of the central tower will be a roof deck accessible by a built-in ladder on the inside of the temple. In the center of the roof deck will be a steel fire cauldron. A steel gazebo will be built atop the roof deck, out of recycled steel objects and scrap with a spire that will likely go up to over 30 feet in height.
The temple will be approximately 400 square feet n floor space so it is fairly small and intimate. The roof deck will be approximately 12' square. It is intended as a “permanent” structure. It will be available to us for personal and ceremonial use and also open to the public. It will be located on the Gateway Ranch property but across the road from the main “headquarters” so that the public can visit it without bothering events going on at the ranch.
The Temple of Life will be a collaborative effort. The structure will be built by volunteers according to the plans that I have drawn. Since the site at Gateway Ranch is subject to winds as high as 100 miles per hour, everything must be very strong. Structural members will be bolted and screwed where necessary. Hurricane ties will be used to attach roof framing. Plywood sheathing will be used instead of OSB. For the same reason, exterior decorations must be of the most durable materials like stone, glass, high-fire ceramic, and steel. The lower part in particular must be very durably decorated since, during these high winds, sand will blast the structure. An example would be stone mosaic for the bottom three feet of the structure which will get the worst of the sandblasting effect during high winds.
Once the basic structure is complete, people will be invited to sign up to create an art work out of recycled materials to be added to the temple. They can create their section at home and, when complete, can bring it to the temple to be bolted on. Sections can be areas of wall from 2’ x 3’ up to 4’ x 4’. They can also be areas of floor or ceiling, hanging items such as chandeliers, altars or parts of altars, benches, and more. Volunteers can pick the section(s) they want and create an art piece that fits, in their interpretation, the theme of the room(s) they go in. A map will be created that will show each section so volunteer artists can easily pick what they want to do.
I think the temple will take a year to build to a point we can call it finished enough. I think we can reasonably project that the temple could be done enough to celebrate by the fall of 2013 – a time for a good party, I think! There will continue to be room for additional decorations over time and on into the future
If we can do this together, it is going to be way cool. The joy of the process will be as important as the result. All who participate in its construction and decoration are invited to put their loving and joyous energy into the work, thereby infusing the Temple with that energy. The Temple of Life will delight and raise the consciousness of all who enter it, and it will be built collaboratively by a loving collection of fun, artistic, and energetic people - an ecstatic dance of collaborative creation!