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Religious Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News

Ecumenical Chapel / BNKR

© Jaime Navarro © Jaime Navarro © Jaime Navarro © Jaime Navarro + 14

Chapel  · 
Cuernavaca, Mexico
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Fundamental Approach Architects Win First Prize for Unconventional Mosque and Plaza Design

© Fundamental Approach Architects / FAA © Fundamental Approach Architects / FAA © Fundamental Approach Architects / FAA © Fundamental Approach Architects / FAA + 16

Persian architecture studio Fundamental Approach Architects have won first prize in the Golshahr Mosque and Plaza National Design Competition in Iran, proposing an atypical mosque design for the city of Karaj.

The winning proposal bypasses traditional mosque designs, blurring the lines between the contemporary structure, the city, and the surrounding landscape.

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

When Sunlight Meets Tadao Ando’s Concrete

Koshino House, Ashiya-shi / Japan. Image © Kazunori Fujimoto Church of the Light, Osaka / Japan. Image © Naoya Fujii Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth / USA. Image © Todd Landry Photography Screenshot of video of Hill of the Buddha at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery, Sapporo / Japan. Image © Hokkaido Fan Magazine + 8

If there is any consistent factor in his work, says Pritzker-winning architect Tadao Ando, then it is the pursuit of light. Ando’s complex choreography of light fascinates most when the viewer experiences the sensitive transitions within his architecture. Sometimes walls wait calmly for the moment to reveal striking shadow patterns, and other times water reflections animate unobtrusively solid surfaces. His combination of traditional Japanese architecture with a vocabulary of modernism has contributed greatly to critical regionalism. While he is concerned with individual solutions that have a respect for local sites and contexts Ando’s famous buildings – such as the Church of the Light, Koshino House or the Water Temple – link the notion of regional identity with a modern imagining of space, material and light. Shoji walls with diffuse light are reinterpreted in the context of another culture, for instance, filtered through the lens of Rome’s ancient Pantheon, where daylight floods through an oculus. Ando’s masterly imagination culminates in planning spatial sequences of light and dark like he envisioned for the Fondation d’Art Contemporain François Pinault in Paris.

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque Catches Fire During Notre Dame Blaze

While French firefighters were putting out the destructive blaze at the Notre Dame Cathedral, another holistic site was also up in flames. Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is among the holiest sites in Islam and was built almost 1,300 years ago, was struck by blaze while the monumental Catholic Church was also devastated with fire.

The fire is said to have started in the Al-Marwani Prayer Hall - also known as Solomon's Stables - part of the same compound as Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Fortunately, firemen of the Islamic Waqf department of the city were able to control the fire before any harm was done to the individuals or the other prayer halls. While the cause remains unknown, sources claim that the fire could have been ignited accidentally by children who were near the prayer hall at the time.

Faith & Form's 2018 Program Recognizes the Best in Religious Architecture and Art

Religious architecture has long been one of the most exciting typologies, one has long paved the way for various design and structural innovations. Faith & Form magazine and Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) annually recognize the continued creativity defining the field.

This year's winners include 35 projects that span a variety of religious denominations, sizes, and location. Additionally, the award has recognized two trends defining contemporary religious architecture: "the preference for natural materials in worship environments, and inventive design solutions to address tight budgets."

Rural Chapel, Midland Architecture, Photo Liz Dutton Saint Mary’s Student Chapel, Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects, Photo Henrik Kam Bahá’í Temple of South America, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Photo Sebastian Wilson Leon A Silent Space, Lafina Eptaminitaki + 35

The World's Oldest Piece of Architecture Tells a New Story About How Civilization Developed

Located in south-east Turkey, the 11,000-year-old Göbekli Tepe is considered to be the world’s oldest temple, greatly surpassing England’s Stonehenge, and the Egyptian pyramids. The ancient site, awarded Unesco World Heritage status in July 2018, predates pottery, writing, and the wheel, leading archaeologists such as its discoverer Klaus Schmidt to ask if Göbekli Tepe may, in fact, be not only the world’s first piece of architecture but a crucial catalyst for the onset of settled societies.

Spread across eight hectares near the city of Sanliurfa, the Göbekli Tepe is an artificial mound hosting a series of sunken circular structures adorned with limestone carvings, believed to have been occupied for thousands of years before their abandonment.

Italian Cistercian Architecture Through The Lens of Federico Scarchilli

In his latest photographic collection, Federico Scarchilli captures Cistercian order in the form of Abbazia di Fossanova, Casamari, and Valvisciolo. Simple and utilitarian, Cistercian architecture reflects the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic periods. During this time, many religious authorities felt excessive ornamentation was a distraction to spiritual studies.

Abbazia di Valvisciolo Abbazia di Casamari Abbazia di Valvisciolo Abbazia di Casamari + 14

OMA Reveals Pavilion Design for Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles

The scheme will be situated beside a 1929 Byzantine-Revival sanctuary. Image Courtesy of OMA New York / Luxigon
The scheme will be situated beside a 1929 Byzantine-Revival sanctuary. Image Courtesy of OMA New York / Luxigon

OMA New York has released initial details of its design for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, a new addition to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, California. The OMA scheme, currently seeking planning approval, seeks to “forge new connections within the existing campus and create a new urban presence to engage Los Angeles.”

Having won a competition for the pavilion's design in 2015, the OMA scheme represents the firm’s first commission from a religious institution and their first cultural building in California. Designed in collaboration with Gruen Associates, the Audrey Irmas Pavilion will form the newest addition to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles. The scheme will serve as a multi-purpose gathering space in what Rabbi Steve Leder regards as “the city’s most diverse neighborhood.”

Foster + Partners Reveal "Sanctuary" Chapel for Vatican Pavilion at Venice Biennale

Foster + Partners has released details of their proposed chapel to form part of the Vatican’s inaugural entry to the Venice Biennale. The Holy See Pavilion will comprise ten chapels designed by ten architects, to be situated on the Venetian Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Among the architects contributing to the circuit of chapels are Foster + Partners, Eduardo Souto de Mourao, and Francesco Cellini.

Courtesy of Norman Foster Courtesy of Foster + Partners Chapel Plan. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners Chapel Section. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners + 6

Images Released for Bahá'í House of Worship in Papua New Guinea

The Bahá'í International Community has unveiled a proposal for the national Bahá'í House of Worship of Papua New Guinea. In the capital city of Port Moresby, a celebration was held at the temple’s future site to showcase the scheme, coinciding with the Bahá'í New Year. Inspired by the art of weaving, the architects’ vision was for a temple where the people of Papa New Guinea could unite to worship and find inspiration.

Courtesy of Bahá'í International Community Courtesy of Bahá'í International Community Courtesy of Bahá'í International Community Courtesy of Bahá'í International Community + 8

Adjaye Associates Unveils Design of New Ghana National Cathedral in Accra

On the 61st anniversary of Ghana’s independence, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has unveiled plans for a New National Cathedral of Ghana to be built in the capital city of Accra. Led by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates, the design is envisioned as a “physical embodiment of unity, harmony and spirituality” where people of all faiths will be welcome to gather and practice their faith.

Processional Axis. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Exterior Perspective. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Podium Entrance to Auditorium. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Main Entrance. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates + 12

Faith & Form's 2017 Religious Architecture Awards Recognizes the Best in Religious Architecture and Art

How does contemporary religious architecture adapt to the needs of the modern world? Each year, Faith & Form magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) award acknowledges the best in religious art and architecture. This year’s winners included 27 projects spanning in religious denomination, size, and location. Beyonds this, the award recognizes three common trends present in religious architecture today: re-adaptation of existing facilities, community-based sacred spaces, and simplicity in design. Read on to see all 27 winners.

© Bill Timmerman © Travis Price © Michael Robinson Courtesy of Moto Designshop + 29

Construction Halts on Calatrava's St. Nicholas Shrine at the World Trade Center

Construction on the Santiago Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center has halted, after the church failed to make a series of payments over a several month period to contractor Skanska.

As revealed by the Pappas Post, last week the construction company distributed a letter to its subcontractors informing them that the building contract had been terminated after The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defaulted on making payment. In the letter, Skanska directed subcontractors to stop all work and to remove all tools and materials from the site, or risk not being able to recover them.

Snøhetta Unveils Carved Residential Tower and Synagogue for New York City's Upper West Side

View southeast. Image © Binyan Studios
View southeast. Image © Binyan Studios

Snøhetta has unveiled the design of a new residential skyscraper to be built in Manhattan’s Upper West Side that will feature a unique, multi-level amenity terrace carved from the tower’s form. Located at 50 West 66th Street just steps from iconic New York City landmarks including Lincoln Center and Central Park, the tower aims to sensitively respond to the historic architecture of its context through its intricate form and refined material palette.

View northeast of shared amenity terrace. Image © Binyan Studios View of 65th street synagogue entrance. Image © Binyan Studios View west. Image © Binyan Studios View of 66th Street residential entrance. Image © Binyan Studios + 8

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

How a Novel Saved Notre-Dame and Changed Perceptions of Gothic Architecture

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "It’s a Book. It’s a Building. It’s a Behavioral Intervention!"

A few years ago, while visiting, or rather exploring, Notre-Dame, the author of this book found, in an obscure corner of one of the towers, this word carved upon the wall:


These Greek characters, black with age, and cut deep into the stone with the peculiarities of form and arrangement common to Gothic calligraphy that marked them the work of some hand in the Middle Ages, and above all the sad and mournful meaning which they expressed, forcibly impressed the author.