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The spatial dimension of liturgy

Historical and contemporary accounts of communio-space in Europe’s Latin rite liturgical architecture

Építés - Építészettudomány
Vilmos Katona

The present study focuses on the spatial aspect of the liturgy, the raison d’être of church building. The topicality of this approach is explained either by the manner of international communication about sacred architecture, or by the work of German architect Rudolf Schwarz (1897–1961), who is cited anew, very often due to his unification of architectural praxis, scientific activity and a life of a devoted man deservedly still influential in the field. A church can be understood by its operative function. Throughout the most important liturgical reform movements of the 20th century, one can get an insight into the spatial concepts of the designers, which, consciously or not, reflect the achievements of these movements even today.

In the contemporary praxis of Latin Rite liturgy, the divorce between the once close-knit aspects of the worship are palpable, thanks to these reforms on the one hand, and their late interpretations on the other. Inspired by autonomous readings, the sacrificial act of the Eucharist (sacrificium) and the symbol of the communal feast (cena) were associated with correspondent models of space. This problem shares root with the frequent contraposition of personal devotion and the communio: the former prevails in oriented spaces, while the latter appears in the central. Spatial concepts capable of respecting both religious devotion and the needs of the community in their primordial unity and theological profoundness, seldom can be found today. Following the terminology of Albert Gerhards and Walter Zahner, these are often referred to as communio-spaces (Communio-Räume). Albeit the proposition of this space type is clearly theoretical, it looks back to important antecedents from the 20th century, and defines a multiplicity of new directions. The story of communio-space spans from Rudolf Schwarz to the contemporary church architecture of Central and Western Europe as well as North America, and still influences the newest designs of liturgical spaces. In Hungary, this recent issue of spatial arrangement is not a question of a substantial debate up to now, yet even this limited number of experiments necessitate the idea and applied examples of communio-space to acquire more attention here as well.

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Templomépítészet a szocializmusban

Szerkezet, forma és szakrális tartalom viszonya az 1970–1980-as évek magyarországi római katolikus templomépítészetében

Church architecture and socialism

Relations of the structure, form and content in the hungarian church architecture in the 1970–1980s
Építés - Építészettudomány
Erzsébet Urbán


Intensive church construction activity of the Hungarian Christian churches stopped fundamentally, because of the secularization that came with the political takeover after WWII. The style and forming techniques of the churches built in the interwar period could be perceptible for almost two decades, but from the early 1960s new form experimentations have begun, and style pluralism has widened from the 1970s, thanks to the impulse of Vatican Council II. New, in the field of church architecture formerly not used building structures and materials appeared beside the traditional ones (which often gave an industrial, almost profane appearance to the sacral space). Churches in the period were built under the simplest circumstances — with the easiest obtainable building materials and with the help from the local communities -, thus there is not really an opportunity to analyse complex structural systems and joints, so this study aims to group the buildings according to the visual-aesthetic appearance and accent of the structures. The research took into account a much larger building stock than mentioned in previous literature. Although most of these churches do not own outstanding architectural value, still their numerical value and their construction itself are important from a sociological, church historical perspective. The churches enumerated in the article are intentionally not cited in chronological order. After the analysis of these buildings, it is clear that the traditional longitudinal arrangement with the conventional brick masonry and timber roof structure is dominant in the first third of the period. Later mainly monolith reinforced concrete frame structures with infill brickwork, or freely formed structural systems with reinforced concrete slabs were designed. Traditional building materials and structures come to the fore with the spread of the postmodern and the rediscovery of the elements of historicism in the last stage of the examined period.

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