With the opening of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale comes a look at the first ever contribution by the Holy See, an exhibition that brings together architects to design chapels that, after the Biennale, can be relocated to sites around the globe.
Located in a wooded area on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 10 chapels by architects including Norman Foster, Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Smiljan Radic, are joined by the Asplund Chapel by MAP Architects. This 11th structure serves as a prelude to the other chapels, while reflecting on Gunnar Asplund's 1920 design for the Woodland Chapel.
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?
In an article for the New York Times Rachel Donadio examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London'sBritish Museum, Florence's Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes "has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces." Balancing everyone's right to be "nourished" by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, "even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome." With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.
The Grand Opening of the Santiago Calatrava: The Metamorphosis of Space exhibition took place on Wednesday, December 4th in the monumental spaces of the Braccio di Carlo Magno. The exhibition will be open until February 20, 2014.
The exhibition, sponsored by the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and curated by Micol Forti (Curator of the Collection of Contemporary Art of the Vatican Museums), presents a collection of approximately 140 works of art to the public, showing the complex and multiform artistic productions of the famous Spanish architect and engineer.
The selected core of architectural models is accompanied by the corresponding preparatory studies, but also by watercolor paintings, which were generated by a creative inspiration completely independent from the genesis of the same projects. In addition, there is a rich anthology of sculptures, both monumental and in a more reduced size, made out of bronze, marble, alabaster, and wood.
The combination of works pertaining to different artistic codes, although closely related, directs the observer's gaze to different levels of interpretation of the architectural volumes, and of the vision of space and shapes, typical characteristics of Calatrava's artistic path. More after the break.