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The Radical Orthodox

Part 1 Project 2014
Amani Radeef
University of Bath, UK
The Radical Orthodox is not only a response to the current political turmoil in Syria and The Middle East, but an in-depth investigation into the history of Orthodoxy. The project seeks to re-evaluate the need for a return to consciousness and re-visits theories of primal religion. The essence of ‘journey’ and ‘procession’ onto orthodox holy grounds is a major factor in the experience - allowing one to feel relieved of excess, providing a channeled mental state when connecting on a spiritual level. Orthodoxy is very much known for the exaggeration of ritual in an unusual, almost mystical sense.

The town of exploration is Stroud; today known for its independent ethic, and self-contained communities, including religious groups. Currently in Stroud, due to the location of religious meeting spaces, there seems to be a lack in any sense of arrival and often most places of worship seem to be lost amongst the urban grain of the town centre.

The brief is to provide a seminary with an aim to nurture and cultivate both practically and spiritually. Rather than the conventional defensive enclosure and introspective focus, the seminary will become a place of reflection and contemplation. The Syrian Orthodox monks and nuns living in this collective will take the role of spiritual councilors and preachers, serving the immediate community of Stroud, whilst also fulfilling their religious duties and theological studies. The opportunity to bring a sense of ritual and ceremony into Stroud seems very challenging in a place of unorthodoxy and nonconformity. However, somewhere as extravagant and unconventional as Stroud would be accepting of it and engage in the public aspects of the scheme.

The project embodies aspects of work, contemplation, study and education – with a sense of community at its heart. Each of the primary functions are crafted and assembled sensitively at the crossing of the two bodies of water (canal and river). The existing railway viaduct is used as a protective device for the centrepiece of the scheme; the chapel for worship.

Amani Radeef

Mr Martin Gledhill

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