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.
Church: The Latest Architecture and News
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."
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.
The origin of Gothic architecture, a style which defined Europe in the later Middle Ages, can be traced to a single abbey church in the northern suburbs of Paris. The Basilique royale de Saint-Denis (Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis), constructed on the site of an abbey and reliquary established in Carolingian (800-888 CE) times, was partially rebuilt under the administration of Abbot Suger in the early 12th Century; these additions—utilizing a variety of structural and stylistic techniques developed in the construction of Romanesque churches in the preceding centuries—would set medieval architecture on a new course that would carry it through the rest of the epoch.
Open Platform for Architecture (OPA) has released designs for the latest in their series of cliffside buildings: Lux Aeterna / Holy Cross Chapel. Similar to their previous project, Casa Brutale, the chapel employs a style referred to by OPA as “Transcendental Brutalism,” and has been embedded into the side of a cliff. The front profile of the building takes the shape of a cross, to be a seen as a spiritual beacon as it is approached from the water.
Once dubbed a “flying saucer,” the Parish (Church) of the Holy Sacrifice is a Modernist expression which embodies the complex colonial history of the Philippines. Located on a university campus in Quezon City (formerly the capital of the nation, now a part of the Metro Manila National Capital Region), the domed concrete church was the product of Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, and of three other national artists who contributed to the building’s interior. Locsin’s design, which combines elements of traditional Filipino architecture with postwar International aesthetics, is a potent symbol of a newly-independent nation following centuries of imperial control.
Purcell has been announced as the winner of the St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition, organized by Malcolm Reading. The competition sought a design which successfully reconciled the preservation of the building in its historical form with the necessary expansion to accommodate growing programmatic requirements.
The two-stage competition drew initial submissions from 53 practices, both local and international. Of these, Eric Parry Architects, Carmody Groarke, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, dRMM and Purcell were invited to submit concept designs, all of which can be viewed here. Purcell's winning design uses two main axes to "stitch" the church into its neighborhood and is described by Malcolm Reading as showing "the deepest understanding of the site and context and the opportunity at St Mary Redcliffe."