Mikvah Chana, Congregation Beth Israel of Norwalk/Westport, Norwalk, CT
A mikvah is a ritual bath house primarily for Jewish women who attend once a month, solo, for spiritual renewal; it must contain a certain amount of rainwater to be deemed halachic.
The concept with VSA’s mikvha design is a stairway to heaven. When one steps into the mikvah room (featured below) one plunges into the deep ritual pool while the roof ascends further and further upward, painted in a midnight blue.
The walls are of rough-hewn Jerusalem stone to recall the Kotel (Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem. It is said that the very first “mikvah” for spiritual cleansing, was the river in the garden of Eden. Thus we carved out exterior stairs, in a river-like gesture that splits the preparatory building, and then leads to a roof garden. Up in the garden there are seats for group study by women congregants, and for private prayer. And one can view the sculptural roof up close.
Sacred Space: A Holocaust memorial proposal for Bologna, Italy. Barbs/Bodies Descending–Skeletons/Souls Rising up. (See Holocaust memorial for brief)