Silence

Tranquillity in Contemporary Sacred Architecture

Text: István Schneller

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Sacred buildings erected nowadays cannot be compared to the former cathedrals which are landmarks of towns and cities as well as top achievements of their own age. The most prestigious tasks of architecture today are skyscrapers, office blocks, concert and exhibition halls, museums and hotels, which significantly overgrow the sacred buildings, churches and chapels being built in urban contexts because of their dimensions and spectacles. We live in a secularized world where only a tiny minority of people who regard themselves faithfuls are also active churchgoers. As a result, the majority of contemporary churches almost hide in the shadows of the skyscrapers dominating office-blocks. The situation is highly similar in most of the cases of churches built after the completion of housing estates. We may say that they are silent partners within the artificial environment surrounding them because of their dimensions and forms, or even more likely, they tend to be peaceful islands against a noisy world which is always in a rush. They do not ambition to stand out against their context with their forms or materials used, but they tend to adjust to and nestle into it. Urban life today is not advantageous for spirituality. All these factors have had interesting counter-reactions. Chapels of tranquillity are built in busy parts of towns and cities or rest areas along motorways, where they offer a venue for a break from the rush, get-aways from our speedy lifestyle and noise pollution, at least reminders of people to remember their spiritual beings.