America, the Jesuit magazine, has a brief slideshow featuring some outstanding contemporary worship spaces. Have a look, and then come back and tell us what you think of these churches and chapels.
The photos accompany an essay in which Roberto Chiotti and Richard S. Vosko, an architect and a sacred space planner, discuss the three important attributes of contemporary church design:
The first and most important thing about church design is that it must help worshipers to become re-enchanted with the glory of God’s creation. Our primary life values have been human-centered, yet survival in the 21st century depends on an ability to place the needs of the planet before our own. .... Church design must not only be beautiful but also must draw attention to the beauty and diversity of creation.
Second, church buildings, whether already standing or still in the planning stages, must become more sustainable. .... Saving energy and the responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources also lead to good stewardship of parish financial resources.
Third, church design today should reflect a deep sense of place and a reverence for local context. The design of a church in a southern desert environment should be quite different than that of a church in the northwest mountains or an eastern coastal environment. ... Using local natural materials harvested or extracted in a sustainable way and orienting a building to capture a natural vista are just two of many ways in which church design can resonate with a local faith community.