Monday, August 08, 2005

New Architecture and Altars

There is a nice example here of a new church, designed and built by Duncan Stroik of UND. I'm particularly interested in the sanctuary design.

While I shall be and will always remain a fan of the reredos -- and of course the permissibility of still building a non-freestanding altar which the Congregation for Divine Worship not so long ago re-inforced -- this design employs a particularly nice compromise, employing a design which is not new of course, but which we don't see much here in the new world. That of the baldachinno sitting over the free standing high altar. In this case, one can see that the liturgy could be done both versus populum and ad orientem, and yet with the presence of the canopy, it, like a reredos, still draws attention to the altar, making it a central point of focus. This is further reinforced by the presence of the tabernacle in the centre on a seperate altar of sorts and the clergy sitting in a more traditional spot to the side. This particular design has something of an almost Cistercian simplicity about it. (My favourite design on this site is the Church of the Holy Trinity proposal for Thomas Aquinas College.)

Duncan G. Stroik Architect | All Saints Church

In the same vein, one could certainly pursue a similar free-standing compromise with regards a reredos, employing a similar idea which some churches made when they renovated their church 30 years ago. In this case, a new church could be built with a classically or gothically styled reredos, ideally (in my opinion) with the tabernacle somehow incorporated into that reredos, and then the free-standing altar put in front of it -- again, allow for celebration on either side of the altar. This would retain the benefit of the reredos with the free-standing altar. I wonder how often this is employed by architects today?

I'm curious as well, for our architects here, why has the Romanesque and Classical style seemingly become a kind of style of choice out of curiousity?

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