Gurudwara Design, A Future Perspective ~ Pt 2

A timeline of architectural styles, a timeline of changing trends and needs

Click here to Read part one

Aesthetics: Good Aesthetics is directly related to Proportions

Only a few Guru-dwaras, built in last 10 years, which could be counted on fingers of one hand, are built elegantly to compare with Aesthetic Concept of Good Architecture today.

VectorDesigns (42K)

AddingDome (33K)

Adding a dome of the same size on a building with 1/3rd the original size is not acceptable. The design is not consistent with time and space. The form, shape, and color do not match with the architecture of the building.

FistSikhTemple (66K)

GoldenTemple (91K)
Picture was taken in 1948

InGold (58K)

Arch is based on geometry as shown in the picture below. The arches used in golden Temple and buildings built during the same period was called 7 cusp arch and suited to the style of architecture of 15th - 18th century. In the west, these arches are built with Styro Foam material and glued to the building. They are finished with Stucco and then painted.

Gurudwaras without Domes USA

WithoutDomes (56K)

Gurudwaras with Domes

WithDomes (36K)

Church Converted Guru-Dwara's

ConvertedGurdwaras (35K)

They say Architecture is timeless. Spaces we design are certainly timeless. However, the function of that space may change with time. A good architect can transform any structure and space into another useful and practical space.

Take a Guess!

Guru-dwara or Mosque?*

AGuess (101K)Some could argue that adding domes categorize buildings as a Guru-dwara, but in my experience and in accordance with a survey I conducted in the USA with local residents, I found over 96% people with an opinion that our places of worship must be some faction of Islam, in spite of telling them that I am not a Muslim.

Mosques presently designed even in Arab countries have adopted many new and functional building features to its Form.

Result at bottom

Let's look at a few examples:

Proposal (60K)

Steeple (32K)

Churches do not emphasize on the steeple. It is interesting to observe that Churches and mosques are not designed in the traditional way anymore. Gurudwaras must rationally adopt a new architecture and Western Gurudwaras must start thinking in this direction at the earliest.

It is important for us Sikhs to have a functional, inventive and up to date authentic architecture with appropriate graphics to fit our newest religion/ way of life, our practical outlook and useful service in our daily living.

Harmandar-Golden Temple is most visited site in India after Taj Mahal.

It would be nice to make our Guru-dwara the best (up to date architecture) and popular place of prayer in the County-City and Country where ever we build our next Guru-dwara.

Although we must value our roots and it is embedded rather deeply in us, it is important to not dwell on the same. We have sailed through a timeline, a timeline of architectural styles, a timeline of changing trends and needs.

Architecture must metamorphose with time. The domes and arches we are familiar with may not completely justify our current function, forms and (life) style. A more contemporary approach to design is much called for. An architecture more appropriate with time, a more approachable design in terms of the construction techniques employed, the modern aesthetic. Cultural beliefs are not solely associated with the visual aesthetic; it is to do with the spiritual connect that architecture acts as a bridge for.

OneGod (24K)


New Architectural Concept of A Dharamsala | SikhNet May 1, 2014 ... by Jasbir Singh. New Architectural Concept of A Dharamsala. What considerations should be given to the planning of a new 'Dharamsala'/ Guru-dwara/

Percy Brown

THE MUGHAL PERIOD & TUGHLAQ ARCHITECTURE SHAH JAHAN (1627-58): THE REIGN OF MARBLE [Text & image courtesy: Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture]

Encyclopedia Iranica.

  • The seventeenth century
    • Materials and tools
    • Methods
  • The eighteenth century
    • Materials
  • The nineteenth century: Industrial Revolution
  • The twentieth century

Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition is a book by Sigfried Giedion first publish.
(1) November 18, 2001: Three teens burn down a gurdwara, or temple, named Gobind Sadan in Palermo, New York because they thought it was named for Osama bin Laden.
December 12, 2001: Surinder Singh Sidhu is beaten with metal poles by two men who walk into his Los Angeles liquor store and accuse him of being Osama bin Laden. Sidhu had taken to wearing American flag turbans after 9/11.
May 20, 2003: Truck driver Avtar Singh Cheira is shot in his 18-wheeler while waiting for his son to pick him up in Phoenix, Arizona. The shooter yelled: "Go back to where you came from."
March 13, 2004: A gurdwara in Fresno, California, is vandalized with graffiti messages: "Rags Go Home" and "It's Not Your Country."
February 6, 2012: A gurdwara in Sterling Heights, Michigan, is defaced with graffiti that includes a gun and references to 9/11.
August 5, 2012: A gunman opens fire in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, during prayer services. Six people are killed. Police shoot the gunman dead.
May 5, 2013: Piara Singh is beaten with a steel pipe outside a gurdwara in Fresno, California. Police call it a hate crime.
July 30, 2013: A gurdwara in Riverside, California, is vandalized with the words "Terrorist" and "Terrist!" (sic) scrawled on its walls and parking lot.listed (by Harvard University Press) in 1941.
March 2, 2016: A gurdwara in Spokane, Washington, is vandalized and the temple's holy book desecrated. The attacker told police he thought the gurdwara was a mosque connected to ISIS.

Sources: Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, Southern Poverty Law Center.

*Guru-dwara or Mosque?

Result = No one said Guru-dwara including architects in a survey at an architectural college. Yet this is a Guru-dwara recently renovated with tons of dollars in Australia.

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