Re: Re: STW Churches ! ?

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I was kind of hoping that you might suggest an alternative use as a community centre for, ultimately, I am inclined to think that that is what it is. As a modern building, apart from its basic design, it bares little by way of continuity with the antecendent tradition of church architecture – and where it does make an attempt (the front doors) it would have been better had it not made the attempt at all for somehow it just does not seem to work.

I must confess that I do know this church and have never been in it. But, it has to be said that in some respects in its liturgically accurate in its fittings – as for example McCormack’s church in Burt Co. Donegal is. If you notice, the altar is properly raised on a predella of one step (which one migt quibble with) and then on the traditional three altar steps. The Tabernacle is placed behind the Altar in such a way that when seen from the front of the Altar it could have been produced for a church built by Schwarz in the 1930s (and from where I suspect some influences have been operative). In this sense, and although it lacks rails etc., this church, by Paddy Jones’ standards, is actually quite “antiquated”, indeed even “retroguardista”.

The form of a church in a square surrounded by an archade is one derived from a “back to basics” approach and is inspired by the impluvium of the first Roman house-churches from which the 4th.century basilicas developed. SWT might have improved their design had they, for instance, lowered, by a step of two, the central part outside of the archade. In all of this I have in mind Josefz Plecnik’s Zupnijska cerkev sv. Franciska (The Church of St Francis 1924-1930) in Lubjliana or his church of the Sacred Heart in Prague or his Church of the Holy Ghost in Wien. All of the information about these is to be found on a thread about Plecnik on the world form section of Archiseek. It sems to me that SWT, while having some idea of this architectural sottofondo, have not taken it to its inellectual conclusion, as Plecnik clearly did. Of course, I accept that the task was helped by poor material -such as those awful roof girders- but poor materials cannot disguise the inadequacies that I have point out.

Then, of course, the all important question of iconography arises. In this building, I can see nothing in a modern idiom that symbolically and imaginatively connects automatically to the tradition of Western or even Eastern Christian art and iconography. The rear window on which so much seems to have been spent, while a nice decorative feature, is fundamentally non-representational and, as such, difficult to connect with a theological tradition whose major primary emphasis is the Incarnation, which, a priori, presumes representational form. In other words, once I have to be told that the window represents the Holy Ghost, and that that fact is not immediate to my unlettered intellect, then, in so far as the window has a function, that function has failed.

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