Exploring the language of simplicity and sobriety, this circular wall reconceptualises the notion of pilgrimage
The historic notion of religious pilgrimage is reconceptualised in Mexico’s Ruta del Peregrino, a project that furnishes an array of nine contemporary structures, shelters, chapels and lookout points along the 117-kilometre route from the town of Ameca to the church in Talpa de Allende. Participants in the programme include Ai Weiwei, Tatiana Bilbao, Christ & Gantenbein and Mexican architects Derek Dellekamp and Rozana Montiel, whose project the Void Temple is shown here.
Since it first played host to an apparition of the Virgin in the 17th century, the church at Talpa − a small silver-mining town − has been an object of sustained and enthusiastic pilgrimage. Around two million people participate each year in this penitential test of faith, coming from all over Mexico to trek through the mountain range of Jalisco. The route can be navigated in three days and conditions are harsh but such austerity is seen as an essential part of the pilgrimage ritual.
Exploring a language of simplicity and sobriety, the new structures are a conscious antidote to the wilder excesses of Mexican Catholicism. The Void Temple marks the route’s final waypoint. A white concrete wall encloses a circular swathe of forest 40m in diameter. At times touching the ground, at times supported on pilotis, the wall tactfully threads its way through trees, leaving the landscape undisturbed. A 3m-high gap under one side lets visitors in and out of the circle. ‘As a universal symbol of unity, the circle transcends cultures, borders and languages,’ says Montiel. ‘It appears time and time again within religious rituals and depictions, from the halo of holy figures to the shape of the Holy Spirit during communion.’ It also represents a cycle, a never-ending journey emblematic of the pilgrims’ faith. The Void Temple creates a place for introspection, for pilgrims to reflect on their physical and spiritual journey before carrying on to their ultimate destination.
Void Temple in Mexico by Dellekamp Arquitectos and Rozana Montiel