Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
MIKVEH “Ramat Shalom” in México City, Mexico by Pascal Arquitectos
March 31st, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Pascal Arquitectos
This is the Jewish ritual purification bath. It can be only performed in fresh spring water, or in a specially dedicated place fed by rain water which has to be collected, stored and communicated to the bath recipient which is called the Mikveh. All of this, has to be done following a series of very strict rules regarding the status of purity of the water. These rules include also the use of the materials, architectural measures and water treatment.
The Mikveh has to be inserted in the ground, in this particular case, it’s inside a building that hosts a community center and a sinagogue, so it had to be built in the foundations of the building, so it was extremely difficult to match all the requirements. The Mikveh is mostly used by women once a month, by the brides to be, for conversions, and in certain holidays.
There is also a Mikveh used for the purification of all the cooking and eating utensils. This is the one we carved from a solid marble rock and used as a focal point and sculptural element.
It´s known that The Mikveh represents the mother’s womb, when a person introduces himself into The Mikveh it’s as if he returned to his mother’s womb, and when he emerges it is as if he was born again. He reaches by this, a totally new condition.
The Mikveh represents also a grave, therefore, it can’t be built in a tub, but directly into the ground. To ilustrate the Mikveh either as the womb and at the same time as a grave doesn’t become a contradiction, they’re both places where you don’t breathe and they’re at the same time terminal points of the cicle of life.
The act of immersion works as an act of auto renewal and rebirth, according to the Torah, when a man finds himself in a condition of impurity, he can’t get in the holy temple under the most severe punishments. To purify himself and dissociate from his actual condition of man he’ll do it by the water, immersing himself into The Mikveh. The water is the fundamental link we have with the Garden of Eden.
That’s why the water that gets to The Mikveh has to come from the water in its original state, and must not have any contact with man, in it’s condition of spiritual heal. Therefore, the water must not go through anything that could be impure, because it could also break the direct link with the River of Eden.
The main idea was, that through the architectural concept, the people would discover, when going downstairs, a hidden place with the proper misticism of the ocasion, something not found in the other existing Mikvehs, where the given image was the portrayal of a mere bathroom. Here without breaking any of the demanded rules, the concept is renewed creating an atmosphere of contemplation and retreat.
The areas created are: reception and waiting room, the room for the bride’s preparation and another dressing room, the bath, the dishes Mikveh, water recollection area, and storage.
The purpose was not to create a modern ambiance, but one that takes us back to the origins of this tradition, and this is achieved by the use of materials such as Persian travertine, fiorite, copper, iron and wood.
The only resource of natural light is the one over the dishes Mikveh, the rest of the illumination is achieved by artificial light.
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