Modern Catholic Space
From H-Catholic I learn that two professors of architecture in Great Britain are organizing a symposium for this coming December on how modern architecture has been regarded and employed within the Catholic Church. Call for papers is here, with possible topics and these two paragraphs of background.
Modern architecture for the Roman Catholic Church in the twentieth century could be experimental, transgressive or progressive, comforting or shocking; sometimes it appeared within a culture of intense theoretical and theological dialogue between architects and clergy, and sometimes it challenged orthodoxy and innovated at the fringes of the Church’s complex structure. At various significant moments, modern architecture was either repressed and quenched, or welcomed and widely adopted. Architects could be concerned with the symbolic potential of modern architecture to evoke newly emphasised ideas in theology. In church architecture throughout the twentieth century, the liturgy was a central focus of development, as space and ritual were intimately connected. Monastic life was subject to modern interpretations of ancient ideals. Mission stations far from Rome might echo modern architecture’s development of a ‘critical regionalism’.
Conventionally, the Second Vatican Council has been seen as a pivotal moment in the shift towards a modern form of church space, but increasingly scholarship is revealing the Council to have been only one marker of broader trends. More recently, architects have sought continuity and reattachment to the past instead of innovation.
What has been your own experience of modern Church architecture? Which examples seem to have worked, and which did not? Why?