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Church: The Latest Architecture and News

AD Classics: Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears / ANPAR

Syracuse, Italy
  • Architects: ANPAR
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  4000
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  1994

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.

Restoration of Abandoned Church Connects Man, Nature, and God

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.

© studio minorormajor © studio minorormajor © studio minorormajor © studio minorormajor + 20

Rocco Designs Skyscraper Church in Hong Kong

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.

Courtesy of Rocco Design Architects Courtesy of Rocco Design Architects Courtesy of Rocco Design Architects Courtesy of Rocco Design Architects + 17

Safdie Architects Propose Conceptual Design for the Abrahamic Family House

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.

© hiresjpg © hiresjpg © hiresjpg © hiresjpg + 8

Adjaye Associates Selected to Design the Human Fraternity Project in Abu Dhabi

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.

© Adjaye Associates © Adjaye Associates © Adjaye Associates © Adjaye Associates + 11

Rethinking Sacred Spaces for New Purposes

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.

Courtesy of Evolution Design © David Zarzoso Courtesy of Thomas Balaban Architect © Flos&Beeldpunt + 16

Luoyuan Anglican Church / INUCE • Dirk U. Moench

Main Facade under construction. Image © Shikai, Dengxie Xiang, INUCE North view from creek. Image © Shikai, Dengxie Xiang, INUCE Tulou courtyard. Image © Shikai, Dengxie Xiang, INUCE Stained glass facade. Image © Shikai, Dengxie Xiang, INUCE + 13

Luoyuan, China

Huaxiang Christian Centre / INUCE • Dirk U. Moench

© Shikai / INUCE © Shikai / INUCE © Shikai / INUCE © Shikai / INUCE + 26

Fuzhou, China

AD Classics: Grundtvig's Church / Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

Courtesy of Flickr user Flemming Ibsen Courtesy of Flickr user Rune Brimer Courtesy of Flickr user noona11 Courtesy of Flickr user Flemming Ibsen + 18

Contemporary Religious Architecture That Rethinks Traditional Spaces for Worship

© Fabrice Fouillet
© Fabrice Fouillet

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.

© Adam Letch Courtesy of S.M.A.O © Ahmad Mirzaee Courtesy of Kojii Fuji / Nacasa & Partners Inc. + 24

Is Religious Architecture Still Relevant?

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 Releases Details of First Ever Venice Biennale Entry

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.

Alvaro Siza's New Church of Saint-Jacques de la Lande Through the Lens of Ana Amado

© Ana Amado
© Ana Amado

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: 

© Ana Amado © Ana Amado © Ana Amado © Ana Amado + 53

AOR Present Proposals for a Church Which Doubles as a Pedestrian Bridge, Spanning a Finnish River

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."

North Elevation. Image © AOR Plan. Image © AOR © AOR © AOR + 10

K2S Architects Wins Competition to Replace Fire-Razed Church in Ylivieska, Finland

In March 2016, the central church of Ylivieska, Finland, was destroyed in a fiery blaze, an act of arson that leveled the 18th-century wooden structure into a pile of ash.

Now, the community is set to start fresh with a brand new church designed by K2S Architects, after the Finnish firm was selected as the winners of a competition for the new Ylivieska Church.

3rd Prize (Tie) - "Silta (Bridge)" / AOR Architects. Image © Aarti Ollila Ristola Architects (AOR) 3rd Prize (Tie) - "Kooda 2" / OOPEAA. Image © Anssi Lassila / OOPEAA OFFICE FOR PERIPHERAL ARCHITECTURE Honorable Mention - "Emilia" / Benjamin Aspelin, Stian Vestly Holte, Simon Schumacher. Image © Benjamin Aspelin, Stian Vestly Holte, Simon Schumacher Honorable Mention - "Ristit (Crosses)" / APRT Architects. Image © APRT Architects + 30

OOPEAA Wins Multi-functional Church and Social Housing Proposal in Helsinki

Courtesy of OOPEAA
Courtesy of OOPEAA

OOPEAA and Lujatalo worked together to design the winning proposal for a new multi-functional church and social housing project for Tikkurila, Helsinki entitled Church in the City. The project is unique in the way that the architect, builder, and client participated in a highly collaborative design process.

Courtesy of OOPEAA Courtesy of OOPEAA Courtesy of OOPEAA Courtesy of OOPEAA + 7

White Church / LAD

© Sunbenz AD © Sunbenz AD © Sunbenz AD © Sunbenz AD + 15

Guangzhou, China