Architecture has long been designed to symbolize and venerate shared values and beliefs. This is especially true in cathedrals and places of worship, structures that exists across environmental, economic and cultural boundaries. These buildings encompass ritual and gathering as they explore the relationship between human experience and the divine. Today, cathedrals are being reimagined for contemporary life and new building traditions.
As monuments to congregation and light, cathedrals are churches that contains the cathedra (Latin for 'seat') of a bishop and serve as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. They also usually span different Christian denominations, from Anglican and Eastern Orthodox to Catholic. It's important to note that cathedrals did not become universal within entities like the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century. It was at this point that they developed institutional structures and architectural forms distinct from parish churches, monastic churches, and episcopal residences. As the following designs showcase, more recent cathedrals build upon tradition by rethinking the past and reinterpreting spaces for gathering and worship.
Fratry Building Renovation at Carlisle Cathedral / Feilden Fowles
A new entrance to the refurbished Fratry hall and undercroft has been created, reached through a newly built red sandstone entrance pavilion and link structure connecting old and new. The project, completed following a long gestation (the cathedral has been working on it for 15 years, and the architects for the last six), gives the Fratry renewed purpose and welcomes the public for the first time, enriching the cathedral’s benefits to the wider community.
Cathedral of the Northern Lights / schmidt hammer lassen architects + LINK arkitektur
The Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit, inaugurated the Cathedral of the Northern Lights situated in the Norwegian town of Alta approximately 500 km north of the Arctic Circle. Even before the inauguration, the 47-metre-high cathedral, designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects in cooperation with Link Arkitektur, was perceived as a symbol and an architectural landmark for the entire area.
The Cathedral of Christ the Light / SOM
The Cathedral of Christ the Light resonates as a place of worship and instills a sense of solace, spiritual renewal, and respite from the secular world — a sanctuary in the broadest sense of the word. Located in downtown Oakland, and composed of a 1,350-seat sanctuary with side chapels, a baptistery, and dependencies, the cathedral honors its religious and civic obligations to both the Catholic Diocese and the city.
Cathedral of Créteil Extension / Architecture-Studio
In 2009, on the initiative of Bishop Santier, the diocesan association of Créteil, supported by the Chantiers du Cardinal, opted for an ambitious project to expand the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Créteil. Conceived by Charles-Gustave Stoskopf, holder of the Prix de Rome, this architecture is typical of the 1970s when “the theology of blending-in” prevailed at the time. It is part of the contemporary heritage of the City of Créteil.
Sacred Heart Cathedral of Kericho / John McAslan + Partners
Completed at the end of 2015, Kericho Cathedral is located in Kenya, approximately 250km South-West of Nairobi. It lies within the Highlands, west of the Great Rift Valley, enjoying magnicent views across tea plantations and surrounding hills. The Diocese was established in 1995 with a growing congregation and is led by the Most Reverend Bishop Emmanuel Okombo. The Cathedral’s design creates a unique and sacred place for a congregation of 1,500 seated celebrants participating in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass under one giant unifying roof.
Clifton Cathedral / Purcell
Purcell completed repairs to the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of SS. Peter and Paul in Clifton, Bristol, making Britain’s last major church building watertight for the first time. Purcell worked closely with the client, Clifton Diocese, to improve the internal environment while respecting the architecture of the brutalist structure, with detailed design proposals that harmonize with the richness of the iconic building.