Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is this church meant for humans?

Interior view of Foligno's new church
Exterior view of Foligno's church

Looks more like a clubhouse for these guys than a church

The town of Foligno in Italy suffered a devastating earthquake in 1997, which destroyed many buildings, including the town's church.  In rebuilding, the Italian bishops sought "a sign of innovation that ... becom[es] a symbol of rebirth for the city after the earthquake."  As you see above, the new church is a concrete cube with jagged polygon windows.  This is an odd choice of symbol, not only because the symbolic power of a concrete cube is roughly zilch, but also because rebirth is perhaps the last thing a concrete cube suggests. The architect, Massimiliano Fuksas, explains his vision thus: "The suspension of a volume within another. Seeing through heaven, from outside, to inside, to outside."  The Italian bishops, confronted with such twaddle yet fearing to be mocked as philistines, probably found it easier to allow Fuksas to proceed with his volumes within volumes and his "concrete heaven" than to interfere.   Alas, the result, whatever its architectural merit, is surely not a church.   Evidently the Vatican takes a similar view, and has suggested that the Italian bishops should have supervised the architect a bit more closely.   As Cardinal Ravasi of the Pontifical Council for Culture puts it: "The lack of integration between the architect and the faith community has at times been negative.  Sometimes it goes wrong."     I hope this is cardinal - speak for "keep this up and you're all fired."  Another critique comes from Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, who has observed, (undoubtedly with Foligno's church in mind), that some new churches offer “spaces that do not suggest prayer or meditation."   They don't suggest anything, other than concrete.  At least not to earthlings.

Rome's newest churches "look like warehouses."

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