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Daylighting of the Newest Christian Churches L&E, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2021

Light & Engineering 29 (4)

Volume 29
Date of publication 08/20/2021
Pages 107–115

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Daylighting of the Newest Christian Churches L&E, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2021
Articles authors:
Elena V. Ermolenko

Elena V. Ermolenko, Ph.D. in Architecture. She graduated from Moscow Architectural Institute with honours in 2005. Now she teaches at the Department of Soviet and Contemporary Foreign Architecture. She is a Member of the ISA, member of the Russian section of the International Organization DOCOMOMO. Her sphere of interests includes the latest foreign architecture, author’s concepts, stylistic differences, peculiarities of the spatial organization of cultural institutions, such as museums, theatres, libraries, public centres

Semantic and spatial changes in the options for using daylight compared to tradition are presented, based on the analysis of the architectural solutions applied in a number of modern Christian churches. According to popular belief, sunlight is used in most modern temples only as an architectural technique proving the skill of an architect, and as a means of interior decoration. The study showed that behind the abstract modern methods of illumination a temple, there is a deep connection with the earlier cultural tradition.
Sunlight was one of the key means used for decorating interiors of Christian churches. The light pouring from windows of the dome drum or cutting through the twilight of the extended naves, highlighting an apse with the altar, or emphasizing the beauty of the sculpture, was the conductor of the Divine on earth. The quintessence of the presentation of “divine light” in architecture, which clearly shows the connection between God and man, are the Gothic monuments.
From the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century, temple architecture was rapidly changing. Renowned innovator architects of the 20th century offered their own vision of a modern temple. The extreme degree of individualization of the new objects of cult was based on a common principle: the rejection of the symbolic language traditional for Christianity. The architects were not tied to metaphors and images of biblical subjects. They boldly changed both the external appearance of a temple and the construction of its internal space, hence, its system of daylighting.
Traditionally, sunlight was the semantic filling of the temple space. As a result of the present study, it has been shown that in the newest Christian churches, daylighting techniques, in their essence, replace the pictorial filling of the temple space with religious content. At the same time, the same techniques function as a modern interpretation for a number of traditional architectural methods used for lighting design of the temple space.
By the examples of the works by Studio Zermani e Associati, Mark Cavagnero Associates, Vicens + Ramos, Königs architekten, modern interpretation versions for the themes of retablo, glowing cross, highlighting the altar space, and illumination of gilded surfaces are shown, and the upper and side illumination features of the newest temples are revealed.
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