Design of cities is becoming one of the most critical issues of our time with 3 million new arrivals to megacities every week, and it is now as much a spiritual issue as it is economic and architectural. Ho can people live their intimacy and spirituality in a city, which changes into a hybrid of physical and digital environment? We need to think about ways that will safeguard us from loosing connection to our physical bodies. The concept of ‘smart city’ – a city in which each object has a digital interface is not a science fiction any more. It is being established in megacities; such as London, where people are becoming ‘digital subjects’ that can be monitored, tracked, controlled, and commodified. Therefore it has become necessary to talk about relationships between the sacred and the embodied.
'Urban Sanctuary' is a research project, based at University of the Arts London, that is interested in creating a new architectural typology for a public sacred space based upon sauna ritual through aiming at the augmenting, triggering, or intensifying of the sacred experience in human beings and enhancing people’s embodied thoughts as well as feelings and habits. It focuses on filling the gap in architectural terminology in incorporating both ‘religious’ architecture and ‘secular’ public baths, creating a new urban sensibility that encourages creative devotional experiences and promoting activities such as sauna and swimming in natural water sources in big cities.