The Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, India, is a Bahai House of Worship that was dedicated in December 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it has become a prominent attraction in the city. Like all Bahai Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion or any other qualification.
The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening onto a central hall with a height of slightly over 34.27 metres and a capacity of 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles. A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world.
Construction of Lotus Temple :-
The basement and the interior podium were first built. From there, to raise the arches and shells, the structure was divided in parts, bearing in mind that when the formwork was removed, the constructed part would support itself until the next part was complete. The structure was divided in the following way:
The nine arcs were built one after the other until the circle was complete. The dismantling of the soffit of each arch was done once the adjacent arches could provide the necessary resistance.
Inner leaves, radial beams and central axis :-
Once all the arches were completed, the interior steel structure of panels was raised. Three frames were mounted simultaneously and raised with two elevators to the level of the radial beam. The process was repeated until all nine segments were in place. The insertion of the central axis was an independent operation, after which all panels were placed to connect to the central axis through the radial beams.
Interior dome :-
After fixing the interior panels, the steel cladding was modified and the folds of the shells of the interior dome were made one after the other. For each shell, three folds, the contour ribs first and then the rest of the assembly. The process was repeated until all shells were completed.
Access and outer leaves :-
The construction of the outer leaves in the entrance and the exterior ones were completed in tandem, along with the inner leaves and the dome. Firstly, the two leaves of the entrance and an intermediate external one were mounted. From there, they alternated the rest of the leaves of the adjacent entrances and the exterior ones. As the concrete set, the formworks were removed and moved to the next set of leaves.
Staging and formworks :-
Deviation was an important consideration in the design of the formworks. The maximum permitted deviation was three millimetres per metre, including any manufacture or assembly errors.
For the assembly of the formwork of the leaves and interior dome, they had to keep in mind the following factors:
– The cementing of the storerooms had to be done three at a time, in a way in which the lateral loads of the individual supports of the formworks would be reduced as much as possible. Once completed, the concrete external surfaces were covered with burlap and cured for 28 days, keeping them continuously wet by means of a fixed sprinkler system in the upper part of the shells.
– Construction joints were to be avoided as much as possible, in order that the exposed concrete surface would show no other lines apart from the architectural pattern. In the inner interior panels, the construction joints were located above 24.8 metres.
In the interior dome, the formworks were designed in such a way that the wooden beams would support the panels, rather than the usual way, in which it would be supported by the steel structure. The interior formwork of each petal was fixed from the base up, taking into account that they must stay perfectly aligned.