Sacral architecture is one of the most exciting fields of 21st century architecture, with its sole existence generating numerous disputes alone. With the several decade long secularization in mind, the question arises whether new sacred buildings are needed at all. At the same time, architects keep giving extraordinary answers to fascinating challenges through designing churches.
In Germany, 500 churches have been closed since the turn of the century due to shortage of priests or the attrition of the congregation, with 140 of them already demolished. In England, Spain and the Netherlands, the former places of worship are put back to use in diverse and outstanding ways: we have already seen churches transformed into hotels, co-working offices or family homes. In light of this process, it’s really unnecessary to build new churches in the concerned countries.
At the same time, some claim that the uncertainty dominating our era may give a new impetus to religion: people may start to long for something stable to hold on to, something that faith used to be for centuries. In our new, post Covid-19 era, the renaissance of services celebrated before large masses of people is not in the least certain – however, smaller chapels might just provide a safe and intimate space for spiritual practices. This is, of course, mere speculation, but it made us take a look around the region and pick the most exciting contemporary chapels built in the past five years. Here they come:
Church of St Wenceslas – Sazovice, the Czech Republic
Brno-based design studio Atelier Štěpán designed a church recalling the 10th century rotundas in the small town located in the Zlín region of the Czech Republic. The cylindrical structure was made of reinforced concrete, and the walls plastered in white are enriched with linear brush marks. Light comes from a triangle-shaped opening on the roof in addition to the windows recessed into the walls, as opposed to the typical circular roof lights of rotundas.
Chapel Salgenreute – Krumbacher, Austria
Architect office Bernardo Bader had to design a new chapel to replace a 200-year-old one on the western regions of Austria. The walls of the chapel standing on the hillside rising sharply towards the skies with its top are clad entirely in wood. As time goes by, this wooden surface will grow grey and dark when exposed to direct sunlight, the same as the buildings nearby –just as intended by the architects.
Open air chapel – Skorba, Slovenia
Not only is the open air chapel built near Ptoj, the oldest settlement of Slovenia, suitable to host masses and worships, but it can give home to other gatherings and events, too. As the town of Skorba grew, they were more and more in need of a place for public meetings and events. Ljubljana-based Enota studio designed this uniquely shaped concrete atrium with this need in mind.
Steel wedding chapel – Csákberény, Hungary
The designers of MÁS építészek started contemplating designing a chapel apropos of their own wedding. The minimalist chapel was made of steel in a manner fitting into the architect duo’s portfolio, and starts out from the examination of the basic shape of churches: it uses the ending of the sanctuaries of Christian churches, the apse as a basis. They built the chapel which has been welcoming those wishing to get married ever since with the help of their friends.
Apostle Peter and St. Helen the Martyr Chapel – Paphos, Cyprus
The chapel located on Cyprus and designed by Michail Georgiou recalls the layout of double-aisle vaulted orthodox temples on the one hand while also applying modern solutions. Its arched shape resembles a piano, and its 56 square meters make it one of the larger chapels. Its entrance as well as its apse at the opposite end of the building enchant visitors with their impressive height of 5.5 meters.