Sunday, May 29, 2016

      Arka Pana church in Bieńczyce (Link 2)

Modern Churches of Poland


"These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

"For nearly two millennia, European architecture was closely affiliated with and shaped by Christianity. Prior to the advent of Modernism, there was scarcely a style that was not promoted, or more likely defined, by the designs of churches. Such a hypothesis makes it difficult to imagine Medieval England outside the purview of Gothic Cathedrals, or Renaissance Italy as separate from its Basilicas. But with the Industrial Revolution and the economic and population growth that ensued, infrastructure and housing became the new symbols and necessities of cultural representation, finding their ultimate expression in the ease and simplicity of Modernism. The field of architecture, so long shaped and dominated by the church, had been subsumed by the changing concerns of a commercially driven society. Of course there were still churches being built, but the typology that once defined architecture in its ubiquity became novel and rare. Or so we’ve all been lead to believe.

"Surprising as it might be, in the wake of World War II and under Soviet control, Poland built more churches than any other country in Europe. The majority were built in the 1980s, at a time when church construction was neither authorized nor forbidden, and as a result played a pronounced role in Cold War politics. The construction of these churches was a calculated affront to the proletariat-minded Modernism of the Soviets. In their project Architecture of the VII DayKuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera have sought to comprehensively document these Polish churches and the circumstances of their construction. Unique not only in how they defied the prefabrication and regularity of the Eastern Bloc, the churches were community-led endeavors that relied on local funding and input, long before these practices became buzzwords in 21st century architectural circles.


"Kuba Snopek and Cichońska began their project in 2014 when both were students at the Strelka Institute in Moscow, under the tutelage of Rem Koolhaas. The project began that year as an entry for the Polish Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The theme for the national pavilions outlined by Koolhaas was “Absorbing Modernity” and each participating country was asked to relate the architectural implications of a philosophy and style to the globalized world that it helped foster.


"Kuba Snopek and Cichońska began their project in 2014 when both were students at the Strelka Institute in Moscow, under the tutelage of Rem Koolhaas. The project began that year as an entry for the Polish Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The theme for the national pavilions outlined by Koolhaas was “Absorbing Modernity” and each participating country was asked to relate the architectural implications of a philosophy and style to the globalized world that it helped foster.


"The title Architecture of the VII Day is meant to expose the dichotomy of church buildings created in Cold War Poland—the hand-crafted antithesis to the prefabricated Soviet architecture that defined six days of labor a week in a work-centric society. Developing the project, Snopek, Cichońska and Popera were compelled by the stark differences between the design and construction of the churches and the factory-direct Modernism that began in the 1950s under Khruschev, and defined the mentality of working and living behind the Iron Curtain. Although in the waning years of Soviet rule the Monday to Saturday work week that was common in the early decades of the Cold War was limited to the more typical five days, the longer work week had already permanently emphasized the sanctity of Sunday and the need for the day and its activities to have a separate and distinguished form of visual representation. “Architecture of the VII Day,” says Snopek, “is not about the industry and housing of Soviets, but instead, it represents all that is missing from that type of pure, pragmatic, and industrial architecture.”


            "How Poland Became Europe’s Biggest Church-Building Nation

"Although plans for new religious structures began in the immediate wake of World War II, Snopek notes that most of the work done into the 1950s was just post-war reconstruction and not part of the wave of new developments in the subsequent decades. The seeds for many later churches were then planted in the 1950s when an end to Stalinist rule ushered in a more liberal era forCommunism in Europe, but it wasn’t until after the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) – a symposium of the Catholic Church conducted between 1962 and 1965 intended to reform the relationship between the church and the modern world – that the impetus for construction began with haste. Vatican II had wide ranging effects on the church, but particularly on the liturgy. Mass would now be conducted in national languages, as opposed to Latin, and the priest would face the parishioners. Snopek attributes this change to a shift away from didacticism in church architecture, creating structures that emphasize community with plans that are more “circular and theatrical.”

"A prime example of this historical progression is Nowa Huta, the easternmost district of Kraków, which was an industrial part of the city developed in the late 1940s to bring proletariat workers to the Polish city. Nowa Huta was designed as an ideal Stalinist city, a place which Snopek describes as "like the piece of the Soviet Union extracted from Ural and injected into Poland." As liberalization happened in the late 50s, there were protests on the streets to bring a church into this prototype of a modern, atheist city. A design by Zbigniew Solawa (above) was unveiled in 1957, but after a wave of repression in the early 1960s – followed soon after by Vatican II – the structure that was finally realized in 1977 was a radically changed design by Wojciech Pietrzyk (below). The church was consecrated by the local archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who would rise to the papacy a year later as John Paul II, and would use that position as an active platform for an anti-communist agenda.

"In the 1980s, over 1000 churches were built in Poland. Snopek believes this is linked to two factors: “The first thing that happened is that a person from a Communist country with ‘no religion’ was chosen as leader of the Catholic church, and second, the Solidarity protest—the regime loses its legitimacy. When workers create a huge movement against a ‘workers regime’ it means the regime no longer functions.”

"The irony here is that the parishioners were building churches as an act of protest against the government, but the government allowed the churches to be built because it stopped people from protesting. In other words, both parties believed they were achieving their goals. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the pace of church building showed a reciprocal relationship with the levels of protest that preceded their construction. The church would act as a mediator between the workers and the government, and would play a key role in the slow decline of Soviet authority in Poland throughout the 1980s.



        "The Polish Church and the Emergence of “Gothic Postmodernism”


"Poland has a long history of Catholicism that prompted a need for religious spaces, even in a country ruled by Communists. Furthermore, as pointed out by Snopek, “Today and before the 1980s, churches were spiritual places for prayer, but at that time it was a cultural space, a place for community and physical protection.” Not especially religious himself, Snopek recalls visiting churches even in the 90s to see exhibitions and watch independent films. “It was a cultural spot.”



The building designs, however, attest to a much closer link to spirituality, or perhaps at least to an assumption that these spaces that were serving temporarily as community centers would one day transition back to their more pious functions. Under Communist rule, there was only a single architecture publication in Poland, and most architectural inspirations came from it and a smattering of books. Having reviewed issues of Architektura, which showed only two buildings of worship in the years prior to 1980, Snopek believes that inspiration for the churches came from Le Corbusier, Latin American Modernism, and theaters, which were shown in the magazine regularly.


"Church architects were also fascinated by Postmodernism, and Snopek sees the influence of Arata Isozaki and early 80s Japan, in a church in Wrocław designed by Wojciech Jarząbek, Jan Matkowski, and Waclaw Hryniewicz (below). Although local architects admired the vanguard styles and materials, the Polish government followed Soviet procedure that restricted access to construction products and machinery, but simultaneously viewed religious building with a policy of hands-off reverence (not a single church constructed under Soviet rule was demolished). Nonetheless, church building was a clandestine process, and the scale of material procurement and speed of construction closely paralleled the generosity of the weekly donations of the parish. While still under Soviet rule, priests would reach out to local craftsman, long out of work in the wake of industrialization, to construct the buildings with hand-laid masonry techniques in use since the Middle Ages; Snopek calls this fusion of style and execution Gothic Postmodernism.


"Parishes were responsible for selecting the designs of their church. Many of the architects selected were young (30 and under) and saw Postmodernism as a reflection of the goals of Solidarity and the Polish people. Though Postmodernism amounted to little more than a stylistic challenge to the rigidity of Modernism in the United States and Western Europe, the style had greater political ramifications in the Eastern Bloc. Embracing the style paralleled a need for choice in Polish society (just as in matters like religion) and emphasized that the sterility of Soviet Modernism had failed.


"Parishes were responsible for selecting the designs of their church. Many of the architects selected were young (30 and under) and saw Postmodernism as a reflection of the goals of Solidarity and the Polish people. Though Postmodernism amounted to little more than a stylistic challenge to the rigidity of Modernism in the United States and Western Europe, the style had greater political ramifications in the Eastern Bloc. Embracing the style paralleled a need for choice in Polish society (just as in matters like religion) and emphasized that the sterility of Soviet Modernism had failed.


"The construction of churches in Poland has never ceased, but there was a precipitous decline that began in the 1990s—perhaps indicating that after the Poles had achieved their goal of independence and the “church as cultural center” had fulfilled its purpose, there was a reduced urgency for these spaces. Mirroring the new freedoms of society, church architects were less inhibited, and Snopek calls what emerged as a trend towards “doing whatever they want.” Besides small parish projects, the major undertaking of the 1990s was four large national cathedrals. The buildings are large and ripe with religious and national symbolism, but as a pastiche of styles executed with commercial construction methods, they lack the vigor of the surreptitious, yet boldly-designed churches of the 1980s. Emphasizing individuality in a sea of Soviet monotony, those buildings are some of the most visceral examples of how architecture can promote the mood and leanings of society with broad political ramifications.

"The intersection of architecture, politics, and social activism makes Architecture of the VII Day and the churches of Poland an overwhelmingly appropriate and prescient case study for our current architectural discourse. As the Director of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale and also the winner of this year’s Pritzker PrizeAlejandro Aravena recently called upon architects to embrace “professional quality, not professional charity.” Elaborating, he said, “If you think you are a good professional in any field then let's try to test your skills in these challenging issues. The more complex the issue, the more the need for synthesis.” And Aravena in particular advocates for solutions that resonate with those who recognize the problems. Often discussed as “participatory design,” he has stated: “The starting point [are] problems that every single citizen understands; I mean insecurity in the city, pollution, segregation, congestion, the kind of things where your daily life is affected. Then you contribute with design to try to offer a possibility.” While there were numerous factors that lead to the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe, in the case of Poland’s churches, uniting the public with a common cause – with a possibility – allowed for architecture to be both a symbol and an instrument of social change." (Link 1.)


Thank you: To Aga living and working in Basel Switzerland and friend of RW for refering me to this web site.
Link 1: http://www.archdaily.com/782902/these-churches-are-the-unrecognized-architecture-of-polands-anti-communist-s
Link 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowa_Huta
Prayer

God, be with persecuted Christians throughout the world. Amen (SW.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

                                                                                                                      May 22, 2016


Oratory of Our Lady of Fatima

Oratory of Our Lady of Fatima
Chiasso, Switzerland

"As the southernmost of Switzerland's municipalities, Chiasso is located at the border with Italy, ...From the 2000 census, 6,235 or 80.8% were Roman Catholic,...The entire village of Chiasso is designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites (Link 1.)

IMAGE
Chiasso, Switzerland at the most southern tip of Switzerland
(Google Map)

The simple pale yellow church faced with its four white columns  is now nestled between two tall apartment buildings.  It features a single center door and two round upper windows.  Its single peaked roof is supported by a facade of short white triple columns.


Sanctuary and Altar


"The church-oratory of Our Lady of Fatima in Chiasso is a neoclassical building built in 1844 by Luigi Fontana (1812-1877) by Antonio Bernasconi, consecrated in 1845. The facade has two pairs of paired pilasters and pediment. Restorations in the years 1957 and 1995, directed by Elio Ostinelli (born in 1948) and Peter Preisig.

Inside the hall is covered with a barrel vault, the choir has a vault with the fresco of the Assumption in the style of Antonio Rinaldi, of the nineteenth century.   in the aisle, portrait busts of Bernasconi brothers, of the nineteenth century; small altar painted doors with scenes from the life of St. Francis de Sales (?), the beginning of the eighteenth century; marble statues of Tavarelli 1936 Saints Peter and Paul, already on the high altar of the parish Tele depicting San Carlo Borromeo, St. Anne with the child Mary, the Visitation, all works of the seventeenth century; Madonna." (Link 2.)



Nave Crucifix

Small altar painted doors with scenes from the life of St. Francis de Sales


Marble statues of Tavarelli 1936 Saints Peter and Paul



Stained Glass Windows


Sanctuary Paintings


Portrait Busts of the Bernasconi Brothers

Bronze Plaque


Photos: Taken on an iPhone by RW while visiting Chiasso from his home in
                 Basel, Switzerland.
Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiasso
Link 2: http://www.wikideep.it/madonna-di-fatima/ (translation)


Prayer

God, be with persecuted Christians throughout the world. Amen (SW.)

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Our History
1330 Lakeshore Avenue
(Yahoo Images)

Lake Merritt United Methodist Church
Oakland, California



"Part of the Oakland geologic map showing Lake Merritt and surrounding geologic units"
(Link 4.)

"Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon in the center of Oakland, California, just east of Downtown. It is surrounded by parkland and city neighborhoods. It is historically significant as the United States' first official wildlife refuge, designated in 1870, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966." (Link 3.)


"In June, 1984, two churches with long histories in central Oakland, First United Methodist Church, and St. Stephens United Methodist Church, merged to create Lake Merritt United Methodist Church.           
"On July 4, 1981, the First United Methodist Church building caught fire for unknown cause, and was mostly destroyed, although some of the contents and stained glass windows were rescued. (The saved figural design stained glass windows are installed in light boxes in the hallway of the lower level of the church. Several of the geometrical design windows are installed in the Administrative Office hallway.)


Tiffany Panel
(Link2.)

" An invitation was extended by the St. Stephens United Methodist to combine the two Methodist churches for worship services and program.
"Soon merger conversations began, making the decision in 1984 to go ahead,...The name, “Lake Merritt United Methodist Church” was selected and the property at 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, on the eastern shore of Lake Merritt was purchased..      
"Architect Terrill Wade, of the firm Gillis, Judson, and Wade, designed the new building... The completed building was Hallowed on March 21, 1991, 

church bldg  
Lake Merritt United Methodist Church 
(Yahoo Images)     
"The western main entrance of the building at 1330 Lakeshore Ave., features a colored granite grand staircase. The sanctuary’s floor to ceiling windows frame a beautiful view of the lake and downtown Oakland. The northern wall is nearly completely covered by a triptych of three glass mosaic panels entitled “Te Deum Laudamus” (We Praise You, Lord) constructed under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany in about 1920." (Link 1.)


Thank you: To Rob Herrmann, Congregational Administrator, Lake Merritt 
               United Methodist Church
Link 1: http://www.lakemerrittumc.org/default.asp?sec_id=18001594Link 2: http://www.lakemerrittumc.org/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=180076993&sec_id=180015948
Link 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Merritt
Link 4: http://geology.about.com/library/bl/tours/bloaklandgeo-lake.htm


Prayer

God, be with persecuted Christians throughout the world. Amen (SW.)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

                                                                                                                May 8, 2016

Cathedral of Lourdes Catholic Church

Booklet
Spokane Washington Churches

The Booklet "Spokane Washington Churches" has been donated to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture Eastern Washington State Historical Society-Archives.


Title Page

The booklet is a compilation of blog posts from "Churches On Sundays" at http://www.churchesonsundays.blogspot.com of churches in Spokane, Washington.

Table of Contents

Cover: Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
              1121 West Riverside Dr.
              Blog Post at July 22, 2012

Sunday, May 1, 2016




Christ Episcopal Church

Booklet
Blaine Washington Churches

The booklet is a compilation of blog posts from "Churches On Sundays" at http://www.churchesonsundays.blogspot.com of churches in Spokane, Washington.



Title Page

The Booklet "Blaine Washington Churches" has been donated to the Whatcom County Historical Society.


Table of Contents


Cover: Christ Episcopal Church
               382 Boblett Street
               Blaine, Washington
               Blog Post April 7, 2013