Designing a new temple and gathering layout in service of the Hindu community of North Central Florida.
The Devi Temple of Florida has charted a course toward a new temple in service of the Hindu community of North Central Florida. On 22 acres of pine forest and oak hammocks east of Gainesville, Devi Temple leaders have developed a long-term master plan to build a center of worship, congregation, and social activities. Following the Vastu principles of the site and building design, the master plan is one of the many steps forward to implementing the program activities planned; organizing the phasing of implementation for the Devi Temple with associated structures; and preparing the site for the first phase of development.
Working with specialist temple architects from India, and local architect Martin Gold, the Devi Temple has finalized the master plan, has received development approval from the City of Newberry, has prepared a substantial portion of the land, and is holding services on the site in the initial structures. During the next four phases of the project expected to span 10 to 15 years, the Devi Temple leaders will build the Hindu temple and worship center.
The new Devi Temple, facing east, looks over the water catchment feature offering a quiet location nestled within trees to buffer the temple from adjacent development. Phase 1 of the project establishes the core 5,000 sqft temple and supports restroom facilities. Three other phases will follow expanding the temple to accommodate a congregation of 300 people, providing a multipurpose facility with a full kitchen, and providing a house for the priest and family.
The temple is elevated on a slight promontory with both ramps and stairs connecting the temple to the landscape and parking. Automobiles are held slightly away from the temple to enhance the spiritual experience of arrival through the natural and planted gardens and shaded pathways. Vehicle access for services and parking for those with disabilities is provided near the temple.
With the main temple space and associated landscaping and parking complete. And, with the congregation growing perhaps to 235 members (approximately a 30% increase in 4 years), Phase 2 of the master plan could be implemented.
The primary improvements of Phase 2 include important ceremonial additions to the temple including the Thvajastambam Base and the main Raja. The will also expand the covered area at the temple entry. An arrival foyer with koi pond is added to enhance arrival to the temple between the reflecting pond/stormwater area. This also allows for congregation members to be dropped of conveniently and safely with a car turning loop. The koi pond and other amenities should allow cars to move through slowly while people exit vehicles and arrive by walking from the parking lot. The shady tree grove is maintained from the initial Phase 1 construction.
The social/dinning facility providing banquet style seating for 160 people and will accommodate up to 375 people seated in rows (auditorium style). The kitchen area is specifically separated to allow the greatest flexibility of uses in the main space. A landscaped courtyard with shade trees is provided to allow events to expand the outside or to hold outside events during the fall and spring seasons. Separated restroom facilities are also provided at this location.
Parking and service areas are included to support the kitchen and dining spaces. Landscaping and pathways are added in this phase to connect the social spaces, via a shaded promenade, with the main worship spaces to the north.
Phase 3 & 4
Phases 3 and 4 complete all the primary elements of the 10 to 15-year masterplan. The facilities in these phases will well serve a congregation of over 300 people and should be a nationally recognized temple.
Phase 3 completes the occupied spaces of the Devi Temple, the exterior perimeter walkways, and the north and south Goprams. This adds approximately 11,500 square feet of space to the Phase 2 temple. Phase 4 expands the social and dining spaces doubling the interior space available. The shaded court between the spaces will allow for one large event to occur (banquet seating for 300+) or two simultaneous smaller events. The kitchen is ample to serve both spaces. This also allows for a more formal event and a dining event in sequence by moving between spaces. Phase 4 also expands the housing to include two apartments for families of 2 to 4 who might be visiting priests or others who would support the activities of the Devi Temple.