Thursday, November 08, 2007
Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.
The post war church posed an interesting problem for architects. On the one hand a commission to build a new church offers a perfect opportunity to create a landmark building; indeed the history of architecture is inextricably linked to the building of places of worship. On the other hand for many the church is a place of tradition and ritual and as such the inclination among a lot of both congregations and clergy was towards commissioning something that was recognisably church like. This paradox led to some dynamics such as the example below. A German post war church, which maintains all the traditional features of tower, bell and clock but is built in a self consciously sparse modern style.
Brought up as a Catholic my own parish church as a child was the English Martyrs in Kent, an interesting design, lacking any steeple and having sweeping sloping roofs but retaining the traditional stained glass window.
For truly dynamic modernist designs one has to look to the Catholic Church in Scotland who commissioned a series of daring original buildings from the architectural firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. Believing that the post war Catholic community north of the border would increase considerably after the war a number of new churches were commissioned as well as a seminary. All feature uncompromising modernist designs. Despite a decline in church attendance many of the buildings are still in use though some have been demolished and the seminary abandoned. An exhibition at the Lighthouse from now until February will display the pioneering work of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.