Design prof edits book of essays exploring spirituality, design

Phillip Tabb

Anat Geva

A new book of essays co-edited by Phillip J. Tabb, professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, challenges designers to consider spirituality as an everyday part of the world, rather than as an concern primarily limited to the design of buildings for organized religion.

The book, “Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality,” is a collection of scholarly essays considering design and spirituality from a range of disciplines and theoretical positions whose authors all share an interest in rediscovering, redefining or reclaiming the sacred in everyday experience, scholarly analysis and contemporary design.

“The thesis presented in the book is provocative: spirituality is a dimension of the world, not only or always of organized religions and their spatial accommodation and representation,” said David Leatherbarrow, professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. “Grasping spirituality today requires attention to both organized religions and seemingly prosaic conditions: streets, some full of activity, others empty; also buildings, some marvelously complete, others in ruin; and much more.”

Tabb and Anat Geva, professor of architecture at Texas A&M, each contributed an essay to the book, which Tabb co-edited with Thomas Barrie, professor of architecture at North Carolina State University, and Julio Bermudez, associate professor of architecture at Catholic University of America.

In his essay, Tabb outlines the theoretical background for sacred-secular communities and how geometry and ritualized spaces can result in places that facilitate community, a spirit of place and an intimate relationship with the land.

Geva focuses on the symbolic power of mountains, stones, and light to embody spiritual qualities by analyzing two Swiss structures, the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Monte Tamaro and the San Giovanni Battista Church in Mongo.

In addition to serving as master plan architect for Serenbe, a sustainable community near Atlanta, Ga., Tabb, holder of the Texas A&M Liz and Nelson Mitchell Professorship of Residential Design.

His academic focus is in community architecture with an emphasis on climatic, energy and sustainable architectural design and village planning with a special focus on sacred building and place typologies.

A founding faculty fellow of Texas A&M’s Sustainable Urbanism Certificate Program, Tabb is a licensed architect and holds a certificate in the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, a nonprofit corporation comprising the registration boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

posted November 12, 2015