Designer Yeshaya Shor has proposed a subterranean park design to take over a vacant lot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The “Spiritual Spring” will be a sunken 20-foot diameter cylinder of concrete that visitors enter via a descending corkscrew walkway from street level. The structure is intended as a contemplative spot, meant to inspire people of all ages to learn more about the importance of the mikveh—a Jewish ritual bath tucked into a nondescript, residential home across the street from the proposed site—and its importance within Judaism.
The design proposal reflects the nearby mikveh, seeking to elevate its spiritual importance through visibility. Shor’s structure is entirely below surface level, with simple greenery adorning the street level of the park surrounding the opening of the Spiritual Spring. At one corner, a conjoined ramp and staircase descend at a gentle angle, drawing in natural light as well as curious visitors. At the bottom, the main exhibition space is open to the sky with a mikveh at its center, signifying purity.
Below the ground, the 12 Hebrew months would be engraved into the slab, radiating out from the base of the mikveh. The entire sunken structure of the Spiritual Spring is meant to amplify the formal characteristics of the mikveh itself, creating an earthen sanctuary protected from the din of the city streets. Ironically, perhaps, the structure will be composed of exposed concrete, not entirely dissimilar to many of the other structures in the neighborhood. Shor envisions the Spiritual Spring as a space for hosting women’s events, private educational tours, or components of academic seminars.
“The ‘Spiritual Spring,’ will act as an educational space, drawing one into the earth like a child back to the womb, its spiritual Mecca,” said Shor.
Images via Yeshaya Shor