Silence as a Concept of Architectural Space

Contemplative Spaces in Church Architecture Today II

Text: Vilmos Katona

Sedona

The essay is the second and ending part of an extended study based on the presentation of Vilmos Katona at the 9th Conference of Sacred Architecture and Interior Design taking place in Budapest in 2015, as an event of Ars Sacra Festival. The lead issue of the conference was Silence, explained by the lecturer as the source of contemporary sacred architecture’s three ‘silent principles’: matter, distance, and openness.
As construction begins with the building’s material, distance is generated by voids between major structures, in order to let openness point out unto the transcendental existence. Spiritual places naturally use all of these principles with a certain configuration to create a sense of inwardness or contemplative atmosphere. The physical space of a church is defined by its materials and spatial distance, while the dialogue of prayer unfolds in-between distance and openness. Architects’ most extensive works claim to raise matter into this openness, that is, to transform the building into a living image of eternity. The essay introduces readers to the phases of silence inside the sacred space through the recognition of several masterpieces of the most influential 20th century church builders.