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Contemporary church architecture

Closer to God

Contemporary church architecture

Thanks to regular participant in this community here, Brother David, for pointing to this article on contemporary sacred architecture.

It comes with this slide show.

The article is written by Lukas Feireiss, co-editor of Closer to God: Religious Architecture and Sacred Spaces. He writes:

In however diffuse and varied a form, the numerous examples of recently-built sacred buildings featured in the book Closer to God vividly illustrate the co-existence of traditional concepts and patterns hand in glove with modern principles, and novel approaches freed from the shackles of historicism in buildings of faith today. Despite their different, respective context and approach, all of these buildings not only thrive for the extraordinary and experimental, but are in their extroverted architectural stance also characterized by a deliberate spatial introversion, a distinguished sense of conscious retreat from the everyday into an innermost sanctum. Thereby their concepts are particularly ample in metaphors, usually unfolding an abundance of historical and thematic relationships in the fundamental formulation and development of the building’s shape and narrative surplus.

Maybe the strength of contemporary sacred buildings a decade into the 21st century lies in their ability to allow the cracks and ruptures, contrasts and contradictions between the past and present co-exist. Offering us a level and a depth of contemplation that we cannot live without, and that we need to experience religion, the sacred building is still the image, the manifestation of a higher level of order and meaning. The building as a whole, its material form and individual elements, are a starting point for a journey of reflection that tries to exceed the visible to probe its intelligible basis.

The image above is particularly pertinent to our Christchurch/Canterbury NZ post-earthquake context:

Situated in Perugia, Italy, the city of Foligno has endured its share of natural disasters, including destruction by earthquake on several occasions, most recently in 1997. The project was given the go-ahed in 2001 after wining national competition organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference for the construction of a new church. It is situated on the very spot of a container camp that once provided shelter to the homeless and is intended as a sign of hope for the area. The church building is conceived as a box within a box, and the interior view of the congregation space shows the two rectangles inserted into one another. (Photo credit: Moreno Maggi)

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5 thoughts on “Closer to God”

  1. My heart goes out to you, Bosco, after these latest quakes. May the Peace of God be with you. And with all in Christ Church.

    Regarding this post, I personally love the photo you chose! I long to be in that space and experience the sense of both soaring transcendence and protective intimacy.

    Wonderful slide show! There’s something about the stark beauty of spaces that remind us of the Old Testament purity of the ONE who asks that we place nothing ahead of the Holy Mystery who loves us into being and sustains us no matter what.

    Thank you for this lovely Christmas present!

    I like the new site. I’m guessing the surrounding color will change by the liturgical season.

    I can only imagine that with each additional earthquake the will to clean up and rebuild becomes more difficult. We are all praying for you, I am sure.

    1. Thanks. The quakes have continued through the night. For many, there have been more than one last straw. I rushed around the neighbourhood after the first one, particularly concerned to check on workmen on the lot of scaffolding around – but there appear to have been no injuries. Liquefaction is again a problem for people. At home, it’s tiresome to, yet again, pick things up and deal with water issues. Blessings.

      Thanks for the feedback on the site. I suspect the look will continue to evolve. And we’ll see about seasonal colours…


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