I have been recently working on a small project for the our parish’s religious day school that my son attends, and which I am on the board of education. It is a pair of prayer shrines to be located on the playground.
I first became aware of the archetype when visiting my wife’s family in Greece 10 years ago. One would find the small shrines everywhere, located in rural areas along the road, or urban areas on street corners or in front of churches. In Greek, as I understand, this is called a προσκυνητάριον, Proskynetarion, of which the plural is proskynetaria. The designs vary from a miniature church temple, to small portico in relief with a pediment.
Years later when working with my friend, George Prosiliakos, at Prosi Design Inc. we worked on designing a series of proskynetaria for the walkways in the forests of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center. We looked at forms that would be in keeping with the regional materials, and the location they were to be installed. We picked as a material cedar, and worked on several designs that could be built by a carpenter. We designed simple rustic columns that would be shaped from a cedar 4×4 post. Each structure had four columns, a 6/12 roof with cedar shakes, and a rear wall for mounting the Icon.
For the project for the day school, the plan is to build two shrines. A small one and a larger one. The small version will have a simple form of two columns, a pediment, and extending roof with brackets. The larger version will have four columns, a roof, and floor. The plan is to build the small shrine now, and the larger version in the future.
I started out with a series of simple sketches of different concepts, similar to the previous designs. The design could go toward a more classical form, but in this setting a more rustic approach seems appropriate.
In the next post, of this series, I will discuss the design for the small proskynetarion and share the drawings of the final design.