Church: The Latest Architecture and News
We are in an unholy mess. It is a pandemic, with insane politics, and centuries of hideous racial injustice screaming out humanity’s worst realities. Each day reveals more disease, more anger, more flaws in our culture than anyone could have anticipated.
This season’s inscrutable fears are uniquely human. The natural world flourishes amid our disasters. But architecture is uniquely human, too. Architecture’s Prime Directive is to offer up safety. So in this time of danger, it is a good idea to think about the flip side of so much profane injustice and cruelty, Sacred Space? Architecture can go beyond playing it safe and aspire to evoke the best of us, making places that touch what can only be defined as Sacred.
What is Sacred Space? Whether human-made or springing from the natural world, Sacred Space connects us to a reality that transcends our fears. The ocean, the forest, the rising or setting sun may all define “Sacred”. But humans can make places that hold and extend the best in us beyond the world that inevitably threatens and saddens us. Architecture can create places where we feel part of a Sacred reality.
The largest pilgrimage church in Sicily, The Sanctuary Basilica of Our Lady of Tears in Syracuse was built to commemorate the 1953 miraculous tearing of a plaster effigy representing the Virgin Mary. The ever-growing number of religious devotees prompted the construction of a dedicated church of an appropriate scale. In 1957, an architecture competition was organized for the design of the new church, where 100 architects from 17 countries participated. The winners were Michel Andrault and Piere Parat, and their sculptural design became not only a landmark for the region but a trailblazer for religious architecture at the time.
Changtteul Church, is an old place of worship in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, that gets its name from the term "changtteul", meaning "a frame containing a window", in Korean. As its name suggests, the building's character lies in its series of windows, giving the visitors both outside and inside a unique experience of light and scenery.
Designers Hanyoung Jang and Hanjin Jang of studio minorormajor utilized the windows of Changtteul as a metaphorical motif for their design concept: the first being the 'window between man and God', and the second being ‘the window between man and nature’, immersing the abandoned religious facility with dramatic experiences.
Rocco Design Architects created a vertical church, on a challenging site in Wan Chai District, Hong Kong. The Wesleyan House Methodist Church, with its 11,000m² program, sits on a tight 800m² plot, making it inevitable to go up and generate a skyscraper structure.
Safdie Architects’ entry for the Abrahamic Family House competition located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, in Abu Dhabi, brings together a mosque, a synagogue, and a church within a shared public park.
Adjaye Associates have been selected as the winners of The Abrahamic Family House competition, in Abu Dhabi. The landmark project, on Saadiyat Island, is a space where 3 religions will come together with the implementation of a mosque, a synagogue, and a church.
In the wake of the recent fires at Paris’ Notre Dame and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, we have seen many architects propose new ways of rebuilding these sacred spaces, opening them up to new possibilities.
Historically, after the decline of the Catholic Church and the increasing loss of faith in several locations in Europe and in North America, the maintenance costs and the disuse of sacred spaces has led to the eventual abandonment of churches, shrines and monasteries with great architectural and historical value.
This opens a new opportunity for investors and architects to rescue and re-contextualize the historical heritage of these buildings. Below we present 15 examples of adaptive reuse in ancient churches--transformed into hotels, homes, museums, libraries and other cultural spaces.
This article was originally published on July 28, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Six million yellow bricks on a hilltop just outside Copenhagen form one of the world’s foremost, if not perhaps comparatively unknown, Expressionist monuments. Grundtvigs Kirke (“Grundtvig’s Church”), designed by architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint, was built between 1921 and 1940 as a memorial to N.F.S. Grundtvig – a famed Danish pastor, philosopher, historian, hymnist, and politician of the 19th century. Jensen Klint, inspired by Grundtvig’s humanist interpretation of Christianity, merged the scale and stylings of a Gothic cathedral with the aesthetics of a Danish country church to create a landmark worthy of its namesake.
It was decided in 1912 that Grundtvig, who had passed away in 1873, had been so significant to Danish history and culture that he merited a national monument. Two competitions were held in 1912 and 1913, bringing in numerous design submissions for statues, decorative columns, and architectural memorials.
Constructing places of worship has always been an intricate practice, managing to detach the human, and release the boundary between body, mind, and spirit. Holy presence has been crucial in designing and constructing sacred places, which is why almost all religious building possessed similar characteristics: grandiosity, monolithic material, natural elements, and a plan that compliments an individual’s circulation through the space. Contemporary religious structures, however, found a way to adapt to the evolution of architecture. Unlike the Gothic or Baroque periods, modern-day architecture does not have a dominant identity. It is, in fact, a combination of postmodernism, futurism, minimalism, and everything in between. Architects have found a way to transform these exclusive, religion-devoted places into structures of spirituality, manifestation, and fascination.
Here is a selection of contemporary religious buildings that prove once again that architects are breaking all boundaries of creativity.
Some of the greatest architectural works throughout history have been the result of religion, driven by the need to construct spaces where humanity could be one step closer to a higher power. With more people choosing a secular lifestyle than ever before, are the effects that these buildings convey—timelessness, awe, silence and devotion, what Louis Kahn called the “immeasurable” and Le Corbusier called the “ineffable”—no longer relevant?
With the Vatican’s proposal for the 2018 Venice Biennale, described as “a sort of pilgrimage that is not only religious but also secular,” it is clear that the role of "religious" spaces is changing from the iconography of organized religion to ambiguous spaces that reflect the idea of "spirituality" as a whole.
So what does this mean? Is there still a key role for spirituality in architecture? Is it possible to create spaces for those of different faiths and those without faith at all? And what makes a space "spiritual" in the first place?
The Vatican has released details of the Holy See Pavilion for the 2018 Venice Biennale, marking the Vatican’s first ever entry to the architectural exhibition. Situated on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Holy See Pavilion will lead visitors on a journey through ten chapels designed by ten architects.
The beginning of the journey will be marked by the Asplund Chapel, designed by MAP Studio and built by ALPI, drawing inspiration from the “Woodland Chapel” built in 1920 by Gunnar Asplund at the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm.
Architecture photographer Ana Amado has shared with us a set of photographs featuring Álvaro Siza's recently inaugurated Church of Saint-Jacques de la Lande, in Rennes—the first church built in Brittany, France this century.
As in many other Siza buildings, this church is built in white concrete and pays special attention to the natural light, which bathes the altar, tabernacle, pulpit and baptismal font from above. Externally, different volumes—blocks, cylinders and incisions—add to the overall mass of the building, distinguishing it from the neighboring housing blocks, while the use of few openings helps to establish a solid, permanent presence in the natural environment. Check Ana Amado's set of photographs below:
Helsinki-based practice AOR have presented designs for a church in the Finnish town of Ylivieska which also doubles as a bridge spanning the Kalajoki River. The proposal, which was awarded a shared third prize in an open competition, intends to "revive the historical role of the church as a dominant building in the river landscape."