NPJ Book Review: The Temple in the House, Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture by Anthony Lawlor, AIA


The Temple in the House, Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture, by Anthony Lawlor, AIA (1994) “Each room contains a mythic universe.” Robert Sardello. This is one quote among dozens in the margins of this fascinating work on “finding sacredness in common places.” Among the books piled on my shelves from years past is this is a particular gem that possesses the insights one might find in the religious historian and philosopher, Mircea Eliade’s work From Primitives to Zen.

Lawler, an architect, with the insight of a philosopher offers a perspective on how to achieve the sacred in our dwellings and “reflect the transformations in consciousness” people experience and seek in the buildings they inhabit. He writes of the intimate partnerships the human mind has with its architecture. Once we create within our mind the architecture and then transform into a physical structure, those buildings we design and build and share, in turn shape each of us and our personal lives.

Lawler suggests that “The spirit of the building is revealed through the architectural forms that give it structure.” And, “by receiving and reflecting the information we feed into them, building elements become repositories for out thoughts and feelings.” In a sense our structures reflect our search for fulfillment. By creating sacred spaces we offer an opportunity for more personal connections to our surroundings. Nature, body, mind and our architecture become one – our personal spaces are reflections of our soul and our soul is essential to our humanity.

This is a meditative work on how we all are connected on a sacred plateau of experience through our architecture. Our personal and public spaces can offer hope to seek a deeper understanding of meaning to life through our architecture while appreciating our relationship with our environment – “What you see, you become,” as the Vedic proverb observes.

A very good philosophical resource with supportive illustrations – architecture is the both science and meditative understanding of creating dwellings in which we live and work while acknowledging our interconnectedness on a metaphysical plane of existence and the energies around us.