As sites brimming with tradition and sanctity, it is difficult to imagine churches and cathedrals tastefully injected with thriving contemporary installations. However, the following projects cast a reverent and modern perspective on deeply prestigious historic sites. Each project’s design intervenes in the cathedral setting, while remaining cognizant of the weight that deeply altering said traditional fabric carries.
Throughout the following projects, the artists and architects ask viewers to engage with architecture in renewed and distinct ways. Moving through each space, visitors are probed to take notice of new shapes, light sources and canvases for reflection. Additionally, they are welcomed into revived spaces that invite new commentary and offer new scenes for existence and exploration.
Set in an enchanting garden, courtyard arcs are linked together by a colorful woven structure that forms a series of vaulted shapes. In this fabricated space, individuals may stroll and admire variations in light filtration and shade access, while wandering through a set of interconnected tunnels. Ultimately, one is led to a central secret cloister.
The main purpose of this transformation was to restore the public use of the old temple by creating a new and multifunctional public space. As an expression of the Spanish Civil War, the challenge was to do so without changing its appearance. By creating a plastic roof, the architects halted deterioration due to rain and wind, and greatly improved the space’s habitability.
Created by Bruce Munro, Water-Towers is an ecologically thoughtful installation, which is lit using energy-efficient LED technology. With minimal and simple materials, the project is created using 15,000 bottles and 226,000 feet of optic fiber. When viewed from across the cloisters, the stone arches become vivid with color, and begin to look like stained-glass windows.
Images by Jeroen Verrecht
Located inside St-Michiel Church in Leuven, Belgium, designers Gijs Van Vaerenbergh suspended a network of chains to create an upside-down dome. The installation trivializes the church’s missing structure, suspending to scale chains from the roof right where the building’s missing dome would have been located.
For this project, SCHEMAA created a dynamic installation that plays with acute angular forms and attracts the viewer’s gaze from both entrances of the Church. The exterior walls reflect the light, vibrant colors and images of the surrounding stained-glass windows.
Images by Marc Domage
During Paris’s annual Nuit Blanche festival, artist Robert Stadler created a hanging light installation in the Parisian church of Saint-Paul Saint-Louis. The astonishing use of light illuminated the domed church, creating an atmospheric effect filled with ethereal floating spheres.
Images by Aaron Asis
Located in Philadelphia’s St Andrew’s Collegiate Chapel, artist Aaron Asis tied over 6,500 feet of blue cord around carved wooden posts and architectural columns. The lines created throughout the space follow the natural light pathways that enter through the windows of the 1924 Gothic Revival-style church.