Arquitectura Viva
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Arquitectura Viva 58


Botta, Holl, Meier, Moneo, Piano, Siza
I-II 1998
Sacred Form. The link between avant-garde forms and religious themes provides one of the most peculiar episodes of the 20th century. Though subjected like other building types to the depuration processes of rationalism, the temple did not lose its dense symbolic content, but on the contrary, enriched itself both compositionally and functionally. To many modern architects, the religious commission served as a starting point for experimenting with new languages, and the challenge of addressing the material and emblematic demands of ecclesiastical constructions remains valid today.   Paloma Gil
The Cult of Modernity
Temples of the 20th Century
Justo Isasi
Religious Experiments
Spain, the Postwar Church
Ignacio Vicens
The Spirit of Forms
Architecture and Liturgy
Buildings: Projects and Realizations
  Art / Culture
Turn-of-the-Century Liturgies. The abstraction of local tradition and the use of light as both a symbol of faith and a molder of space characterize these three religious works: an at once intellectual and vernacular parish center in northern Portugal, a funerary chapel and lookout in the Swiss Alps, and a small scenographic church in an American campus.   Álvaro Siza
Church in Marco de Canavezes
Mario Botta
Chapel on Mount Tamaro
Steven Holl
Chapel in Seattle
Temples for the Year 2000. Reconciling secularism and current spiritual needs, the third millennium will bring forth new temples: a fractured church to commemorate another Roman Jubilee, a pilgrimage shrine conceived as a huge outdoor theater in southern Italy, and a cathedral in Los Angeles that is to be at once a holy precinct and a public space.   Richard Meier
Church of the Year 2000, Rome
Renzo Piano
Church of Padre Pío
Rafael Moneo
Cathedral of Los Angeles
Books, Exhibitions, Personalities
  Art / Culture
Mystical Proportions. The Dutch Johannes van der Laan and the German Rudolf Schwarz devoted their efforts to the creation of the perfect temple, and their speculations gave rise to some exemplary churches.   José Ignacio Linazasoro
Van der Laan, Divine Measure
Antón Capitel
Schwarz, Theology and Function
Félix Candela, 'in memoriam'. He was an architect and an engineer, a builder and an audacious inventor of astonishing concrete structures; with his death goes one of the greatest figures of modern Spanish architecture.   Jaime Cervera
Candela, a Genius on the Side
Alfonso Basterra & Elisa Valero
Candela, the Final Interview
Anthological Texts. New publications present the literary talents of Bohigas and Siza, measure the fame of U.S. architects via an analysis of mentions, and offer another reading of impressionism through contemporary criticism.   Focho's Cartoon
Miguel Fisac
Various Authors
Interiors, Design, Construction
  Technique / Style
Pastoral Residences. The ecclesiastical program constitutes only a part of three Spanish projects commissioned by different religious congregations for the carrying out of their social, pastoral and educational activities: a home for the aged in Castilla La Mancha, a seminary and theological center in Andalusia, and a youth hostel in the Basque Country.   Vicens & Ramos
Residence, Alcázar de S. Juan
José Antonio Carbajal
Seminary, Seville
Nogué, Onzain & Roig
Youth Hostel, Eguino, Álava
To close, the Barcelona school Construction professor Ignacio Paricio makes a comeback in the magazine through a renewed products section with a critical focus, dedicating his first installment to solar protection; and the Madrid school's Javier García-G. Mosteiro intones an elegy to the hyperbolic paraboloids of reinforced concrete developed by the late Félix Candela.

  Ignacio Paricio
Solar Protection
English Summary
Sacred Form
Javier García-G. Mosteiro
Mourning the 'Hypar'

Luis Fernández-Galiano

Sacred Form

Holy architecture is very human. In bygone times, Biblical hermeneutics and Pythagorean speculation endeavored to find texts and figures that would give access to the sacred realm. Like magic words intoned in front of a cave or the combination of digits that opens a safe, proportions and numbers were used by architects as keys to mystery; and even in our times, some visionary or archaic builders, from Schwarz to Van der Laan, have explored this path to perfection in search of a geometric philosopher's stone. But nowadays sacred forms are profane: the forms of cult have given way to the cult of forms, and temples have moved from the domain of theology to the field of art.

In the shift from liturgy to artistry, churches have passed from type to topos. Deserting the regimented normalization of a common faith, sacred spaces have kept only their ties to place: if not typical, at least they are topical. The whitewashed walls of the parish of Marco de Canavezes, the stone ramparts of the chapel on Mount Tamaro and the concrete panels of the church at the University of Seattle belong to Portuguese tradition, to Alpine landscape and to North American construction: these three temples are Catholic but, paradoxically, hardly universal. Under the arbitrary empire of artistic individuality, typological catholicity has been replaced by topographic specificity.

The fragmentation of worship has also removed all remaining constraints on authorship. With the dissolution of dogmatic certitudes, the designer is free to interpret the sacred, using the ecclesiastical commission no longer as a framework established by liturgical conventions but as an opportunity for freedom of expression. Such autonomy leads to both outrageousness and excellence: the extinction of the code facilitates bewilderment, but also the exaltation of personal languages. The purist shells of Rome's jubilee church, the reinforced arches of the liturgical hall at Padre Pío's shrine and the alabaster screens at the cathedral of Los Angeles reflect the esthetic concerns of their authors.

Finally, adapting religion to the society of spectacle sprinkles any contemporary proposal with a certain theatricality. Such a scenographic approach fragments forms and blurs liturgical contents, thereby expressing the confused faith of our times and the secular plurality of its languages. In this perplexing panorama we encounter episodes of rare emotion: moments of discovery like the perimetral aisles of Moneo's cathedral, which string a rosary of simultaneous chapels, or flashes of invention like the front facade of Siza's church, whose violently hermetic beauty is at once vernacular and mannerist, testify to the current plurality and uncertainty of the arts and the holy.

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