A Look at Contemporary Religious Structures Around the World

After Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut set the pace, religious buildings in many places were designed to resemble galleries or museums

OB-Religious-Post.jpg

Deeply rooted in tradition, the religious buildings of the past were dominant, didactic figures -- in social life but also in architecture, as made clear by Ludwig Wittgenstein's claim that architecture "compels and glorifies ... where there is nothing to glorify there can be no architecture."

A new point of view emerged in 1920s New York City, setting of The Fountainhead, with Howard Roark's Temple Dedicated to the Human Spirit. It seemed both religious buildings specifically and architecture generally were on the threshold of being democratized. Outside of literary fiction, though, the actual process of change didn't take off until a couple of decades later. Even today, it's still limited to certain areas of the world. Elsewhere, religious buildings remain patronizing, designed to intimidate.

Ever since Le Corbusier's masterpiece Notre Dame du Haut set the pace, the religious structures of the immediate present for many of us have been very much on the neutral artistic side -- more akin to museums, galleries, or centers than to institutional buildings. Aesthetics, inventive lighting, and distinctive looks are all of great importance in making today's structures immediately recognizable, easy to embrace and identify with, more related to their audience and surroundings.

View the complete OpenBuildings collection: Contemporary Religious Buildings.

Image: Milo Keller.

Presented by

OpenBuildings is a community-driven encyclopedia of buildings from around the world. It is a database of historic, contemporary, and conceptual architecture that exists as a website and applications for iPhone and Android.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Global

Just In