Materials in Churches

Since the industrial evolution in 18th to 19th century, building materials have changed a lot regarding material application, material expression and so on. To achieve architectural purposes, buildings have been transformed under great influences from the material technology and material aesthetic changes. Recently, I studied some of the church design on the perspective of material transformation and expression, I found it is interesting to see how materials can play a big role in church design on the purpose of expressing and creating different sacred spaces for communities. For instances, one of the national historical landmarks, Trinity Church in Boston designed by H. H. Richardson informs us a Victorian style, which is Romanesque façade. Also he tended to create a civic value and change social behavior by building new types of spaces in public buildings, such as this library. Different type of stones were applied and used for the design, rusticated rock, stone arches and wrought iron for windows as ornamentation. The main building materials are Monson granite and Longmeadow sandstones; also most of the supporting piles were made of wood.

250px-Trinity_Church,_Boston,_Massachusetts_-_front_oblique_view                   graphic_building

Traditional materials can express the influences done by history and conventional social values in some senses. However, some of the modern churches in the beginning of 20th century, such as the Unity Temple designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it Unitarian Universalist church that is considered as the first modern building in the world. The only material it uses is reinforced concrete. Before getting into architecture, I never thought a concrete wall could be as attractive as variable stones that are with colors. However, seeing these comparisons between different churches, what I am trying to say is that as we are manipulating new materials technologies into modern design, mostly our aesthetic evaluation can be changed.



One comment

  1. lask0062

    I agree with your idea of how interesting it is that materials can be used to give different feelings and how material use has changed through the years and with the different styles. I wish that you would have elaborated more on what you learned when you studied the importance of materials in churches and other sacred places. It would have been interesting to hear what you think about how each material creates a different feeling, and what those feelings were. For example, what message does a H.H. Richardson stone create that differs from what Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to convey with his concrete.

    I recently have become very interested in the architecture of churches and other sacred places. The material plays a huge influence on how the space is perceived and experienced. I found that both physical materials and more fluid materials such as light can create emotions specific for the program of the space. Material use is very important to conveying what the architecture was meant to and completes a building. For example, Blaine’s example in class of Tadao Ando’s church in Japan uses concrete as well, but the clean lines and the slight gaps that create the cross make such a powerful feeling with the light. The way these two materials interact with each other creates something beautiful. The way these materials are manipulated creates a beautiful harmony.

    I feel that why you and many of us are attracted to sacred and religious sites is because of their specific use of material and the emotion it creates. These places of significance are very important to people and it is important for the architects to pay close attention to this.

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