January 1, 2013

What Can Contemporary Design do for Religion?

If you think religious spaces are all about clustered columns and flying buttresses, you’ve not been to church in years. Contemporary religious architecture targets a new range of sensibilites.

Drayton Green Church

“While gothic styles are closely associated in the popular imagination with the archetypical church, it would be a little pastiche to continue to build churches in that style today, not to mention prohibitively expensive and difficult,” says Stuart Piercy, director at Piercy & Company, the London-based firm that recently unveiled its plan for the new Drayton Green Church in the city’s Ealing borough.

Today, the drive for simplicity is present across most denominations, perhaps even more so in these religious structures than in market segments like residential and hospitality. “The move away from ornate decoration towards a more pared-back approach that values flexibility and simplicity is also in response to the multipurpose, civic role [places of worship] often play in the community,” explains Piercy. “There has also been a relaxation on the strict spatial layout of churches with a shift away from the traditional cruciform layout of nave, crossing, transepts and altar.

And, sometimes, traditional religious references are abstracted, but still present. In the Drayton Green Church, Piercy created a pleated roof that rises to a peak, recalling a traditional spire. In this way, design can help to attract new members of the congregation by demonstrating the institution’s awareness and embrace of changing demographics and sensibilities. Click through below to see the latest realizations of contemporary design on a mission.

Kamppi Chapel of Silence 1. Kamppi Chapel of Silence
Ecumenical Chapel 2. Ecumenical Chapel
Ulm Synagogue 3. Ulm Synagogue
Cappella nel bosco 4. Cappella nel Bosco
Sancaklar Mosque 5. Sancaklar Mosque

Recent Projects