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Religious Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News

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.

AD Classics: Neviges Mariendom / Gottfried Böhm

Standing like a concrete mountain amid a wood, the jagged concrete volume of the Neviges Mariendom [“Cathedral of Saint Mary of Neviges”] towers over its surroundings. Built on a popular pilgrimage site in western Germany, the Mariendom is only the latest iteration of a monastery that has drawn countless visitors and pilgrims from across the world for centuries. Unlike its medieval and Baroque predecessors, however, the unabashedly Modernist Mariendom reflects a significant shift in the outlook of its creators: a new way of thinking for both the people of post-war Germany and the wider Catholic Church.

© Yuri Palmin © Yuri Palmin © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 22

Tadao Ando Envelops Giant Buddha Statue in Lavender-Planted Hill Temple

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando has designed a monumental lavender-covered temple enveloping a giant statue of Buddha at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.

Screenshot of video courtesy Hokkaido Fan Magazine Screenshot of video courtesy Hokkaido Fan Magazine Screenshot of video courtesy Hokkaido Fan Magazine Screenshot of video courtesy Hokkaido Fan Magazine + 10

“Vertical Landscapes” to Promote Cultural Exchange and Religious Coexistence for New York’s Muslim Community

New York based Büro Koray Duman Architects are collaborating with the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) to design a cultural center prototype, named Cordoba House, in order to facilitate the total integration of American Muslims, without compromising their religious identities. The center will be the first Muslim sponsored multi-faith community center in New York City, aiming to help promote “progressive change, inter-religious coexistence, and cultural exchange”.

Highlighting the necessity of such a project, the design team explain: “There are approximately 800,000 Muslims living in NYC. A majority of the gathering places for Muslims are Mosques that focuses on Religion as Practice, which does not leave enough room for developing Religion as Culture.”

Courtesy of Büro Koray Duman Architects Courtesy of Büro Koray Duman Architects Courtesy of Büro Koray Duman Architects Courtesy of Büro Koray Duman Architects + 11

"Faith Estates" Proposes a New Approach to Religious Pilgrimage by Excavating Holy Sites

Machaerus religious development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi
Machaerus religious development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi

In a time of what seems to be ever-increasing religious and political conflict, Bartlett students Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, and Nasser Alamadi instead chose to focus on collaboration between religions in their thesis project entitled “Faith Estates,” which outlines a new method of mass religious tourism. In an area around the Dead Sea characterized by disputed boundaries and conflicting ownership claims, the group aims to reimagine the relationship between the world’s three monotheistic religions, but also to rethink the relationship between religion, tourism, and the landscape. The design consists of large-scale excavation sites which form tourist resorts along a pilgrimage route with the goal of forming a mutually beneficial relationship.

Dead Sea secular development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi The processional route toward Machaerus. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi Horkania archaeological development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi Dead Sea development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi + 19

Schiattarella Associati’s Mosque in Saudi Arabia Creates an Illuminated Local Landmark

Rome-based firm Schiattarella Associati have unveiled the design of a new community mosque complex in the city of Ha’il in Saudi Arabia, using traditional cultural elements of Najd architecture to create a new landmark in the area. The 22,500 square meter Al Jabri Mosque accommodates 3000 people and focuses on “the principle of a people-oriented city and proposes it back again using a contemporary language respectful and attentive in the use of shapes and materials.”

Courtesy of Schiattarella Associati Courtesy of Schiattarella Associati Courtesy of Schiattarella Associati Courtesy of Schiattarella Associati + 6

Chapel Proposal in Senegal Uses Local Materials to Unite the Community

Taking third place in the recently-concluded Kaira Looro competition to design a multi-faith place of worship for the community of Tanaf in Senegal, this design by Sean Cassidy and Joe Wilson proposes a circular chapel with a sunken exterior moat in which locals can privately reflect and pray. Meanwhile, the central sanctum is designed to be constructed by locals with handmade clay bricks, forming a design which, as Cassidy and Wilson explain, "literally comes from the 'God given land'" that the community equally "can take pride in and call their own upon completion."

Courtesy of Cassidy+Wilson Courtesy of Cassidy+Wilson Courtesy of Cassidy+Wilson Section. Image Courtesy of Cassidy+Wilson + 8

TED Talk: The Designer of Chile's Bahá'í Temple Explores Sacred Spaces in a Secular Time

In a recent TED Talk, architect Siamak Hariri takes the audience inside his design process for the Bahá'í Temple of South America. Responding to an open call in 2003 to design the last of the faith's continental temples in Santiago, Chile, Hariri recalls a moment as a student at Yale when he learned about the transcendent power of architecture, a moment he tried to recreate in the twelve-year project.

© Asamblea Espiritual Nacional de los Bahá'ís de Chile + Hariri Pontarini Architects © Asamblea Espiritual Nacional de los Bahá'ís de Chile + Hariri Pontarini Architects © Daniela Galdames © Daniela Galdames + 5

5 Fun Easter Eggs Hidden in Gothic Architecture

This article was originally published on Atlas Obscura as "Five Architectural Easter Eggs Hiding on Gothic Cathedrals."

The modern use of the term “easter egg”—not the holiday treat but rather a hidden joke or surprise item inserted in a piece of media—originated with Atari in 1979, when a developer snuck his name into a game hoping to get some recognition as the creator. But these surprise treats, hidden to all but those who look closely enough, aren’t only lurking in the digital world. Some of the best easter eggs are snuck into the physical architecture around us.

The excellent thing about architectural easter eggs, be they tongue-in-cheek, carved out of spite, or simply placed as a fun treat awaiting an observant eye, is that they endure in the landscape around us, becoming a sneaky and often confusing part of history. Here are five hidden carvings that dot historic structures with a bit of human nature.

The Top 10 Historical Architecture Sites to Visit in Iran

As the remnants of an empire that once covered almost the entire area from Greece to China, Iran is full of historic wonders. Due to the country's current political situation, it is not exactly a top tourist destination and as such many of these wonders are kept a secret from the rest of the world. As with any historical building, the ten sites listed below each contain a rich history within their spaces. However, Iran’s history is exceptionally complex, layered with dynasties and rulers whose influence extended way beyond modern-day Iran. These sites, therefore, are physical memories of the rich culture that underpins Iranian people today, despite the radical change in the country’s political sphere after the 1979 Revolution. Sacred sites for the Zoroastrians, for example, are still visited and remembered, despite the restrictions placed upon them by the Iranian government. The essences of these sites provide opportunities to learn about and empathize with the history of Iran, beyond what we hear in the news.

Earthen Architecture, Yazd. Image © Ariana Zilliacus Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, Shiraz. Image © Ariana Zilliacus Persepolis, Shiraz. Image © Ariana Zilliacus Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan. Image © Ariana Zilliacus + 54

4 Virtual Spaces in "Second Life" that Explore Alternatives in Religious Architecture

If you’ve heard of Second Life, the 2000s-era web-based online world with millions of loyal “residents” who populated it with personal avatars, you’re likely to think it has become irrelevant or obsolete. But at the peak of its popularity, the site received a lot of attention for providing users with a potentially dangerous escape from reality—one so powerful that it was not unheard of to leave real jobs, friends, and families for those found within the site.

Second Life is the ultimate democratizer in space making. The vast web of locations in the site's virtual world, called sims, are almost completely user-generated. For as little as $75 a month, anyone with an internet connection and basic CAD skills can create, upload, and maintain whatever place they dream up. Sure, sometimes this “great equalizer” spits out such venues as SeDucTions and Sinners Burlesque, but more often than not, builders have responded to the complex opportunities and challenges presented by their unique situation with innovative design solutions.

One place to observe this is in the site’s many spiritual sims, in which religious architecture often responds to the displacement of religious authority in the digital world, since a lack of official (sanctioned) ties to tradition offers a designer more agency than in the real world. Read on to discover four cases that carve out a space for spirituality in Second Life and reveal some of what works—and doesn’t—in today's virtual sacred architecture.

How the Crystal Cathedral Is Adapting for a New Life Out of the Spotlight

When the Crystal Cathedral was constructed near Los Angeles in 1980, its design was pure Hollywood: designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee for televangelist star Robert Schuller, the design combined traditional elements of church design with features that made it suitable for television broadcasts. However, when Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the building was passed to a very different tenant, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, who then commissioned Los Angeles-based firm Johnson Fain to adapt the building to be a better fit for the Catholic Church.

A recent article by Mimi Zeiger for Architect Magazine investigates how Johnson Fain are converting the 1980 classic into something more suitable for its new life out of the spotlight—including modulating the light within the vast all-glass structure and rearranging the seating.

Construction Begins on World's Tallest Religious Building

Construction is underway on a 700 foot (213 meter) tall Hindu temple in Uttar Pradesh, India that, upon completion, will be the world’s tallest religious building. Designed by Indian firm InGenious Studio, the structure (named “Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir”) will surpass the Ulm Minster in Germany, the current tallest church at 530 feet (162 meters).

Faith & Form's 2016 Religious Architecture Awards Recognize 28 Projects from Around the Globe

Each year, Faith & Form magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) reward the best religious architecture, design and art for religious spaces. In their 2016 awards, the jury recognized 28 projects across 10 categories, with almost half of the winners designed for sites outside of North America. Aside from this diversity of location, another trend in the awards was a tendency toward material honesty and simplicity. "Several jurors were impressed with how designers used an economy of means with simple, elegant materials to meet the needs of congregations," said Michael J Crosbie, editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, adding that "a reverence for natural materials was seen in many submissions, and in winning projects." Read on to see all 28 winners.

© Nathan Kirkman © Peter Moloney © Lucas Boyd and Chad Greenlee © Sadao Hotta + 29

Calatrava's St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center Tops Out

The Santiago Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center has topped out, and capped with a temporary, six-foot-tall cross.

The Byzantine-styled structure was envisioned by Calatrava in 2013 as a non-denominational spiritual center to replace the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located at 155 Cedar Street, which was destroyed on 9/11.

Winners Announced in Competition to Design Copenhagen’s First New Church in 30 Years

JAJA Architects has been announced as the winners of an open international competition to design a new parish church in the Sydhavnen (South Harbor) district of Copenhagen. When completed, it will be the first new church built in Copenhagen since 1989.

The competition, organized by The Danish Association of Architects, sought proposals for a 3,200 square meter church to be located on a waterfront site in the revitalized district of Sydhavnen that could be used for a range of religious, social, cultural and musical events. Construction of the church is expected to be completed in 2019.

Continue reading to see the winning proposal as well as several additional entries.

Courtesy of JAJA Architects Courtesy of JAJA Architects Courtesy of Studio David Thulstrup Courtesy of Architects of Invention + 69

Experience the "Brutal Faith" of Gottfried Böhm's Pilgrimage Church in Neviges

This exclusive photo essay by Laurian Ghinitoiu was originally commissioned for the fifth issue of LOBBY. Available later this month, the latest issue of the London-based magazine—published in cooperation with the Bartlett School of Architecture—examines the theme of Faith as "a fervent drive, a dangerous doctrine, a beautifully fragile yet enduring construct, an unapologetic excuse, a desperate call for attention and a timely consideration on architectural responsibility."

In 1986 the Pritzker Architecture Prize announced their first German laureate. In a speech at the ceremony in London’s Goldsmiths’ Hall, the Duke of Gloucester suggested that the prize “may not guarantee immorality,” inferring, perhaps, that not even the most prestigious award in architecture could compete with an œuvre so compact, focussed and enduring as that of Gottfried Böhm – a “son, grandson, husband, and father of architects.”

Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 24

10 Of The World's Most Spectacular Sacred Spaces

Religion, in one form or another, has formed the core of human society for much of our history. It therefore stands to reason that religious architecture has found equal prominence in towns and cities across the globe. Faith carries different meanings for different peoples and cultures, resulting in a wide variety of approaches to the structures in which worship takes place: some favor sanctuaries, others places of education and community, while others place the greatest emphasis on nature itself. Indeed, many carry secondary importance as symbols of national power or cultural expression.

AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. The collection of sacred spaces collated here invariably reveal one desire that remains constant across all faiths and cultures: shifting one’s gaze from the mundane and everyday and fixing it on the spiritual, the otherworldly, and the eternal.

Courtesy of Flickr user Arian Zweger under CC BY 2.0 Courtesy of Flickr user Futo-Tussauds under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 © Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia Courtesy of Flickr user Naoya Fujii under CC BY-NC 2.0 + 10