A reader sent me a link to an article that included the following picture.
I had some hope that it wouldn’t be a Catholic Church, though this being predominately Catholic Malta I knew the chance was slim. The explanation behind the design is unintentionally hilarious. The type of stuff that makes parody difficult when real-world explanations like these exist.
The designs for the Hal-Farrug church are the ones that will eventually be presented to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Prof. England said the church "has been conceived primarily as a church for our time; a composite structure based on a geometry of rotations, inclinations, oscillations and fluctuations.
"This apparent anti-order of forms may be read as a reflection of not only the current overall general global agitation but also of the present turbulence and difficulties being encountered today by the Catholic Church itself as an institution.
"The dark inclined entrance tunnel provides the visitor with a ‘rite of passage’ transition from external secular space to internal sacred space. One cannot approach a sacred space casually!
Though approaching this one you might become a casualty from all the sharp objects.
"The tunnel entrance is therefore conceived as a pathway that prepares the churchgoers, a profane shadowland threshold which opens at its end to the exuberant illuminated light well of the church interior. For internally the church is washed and bathed in light, a light clothed arena which attempts, with its inclined cylindrical masses, to manifest in architectural terms Pope John Paul II’s requisites for sacred spaces as laid out in his Letter to Artists: ‘the functional must be wedded to the creative impulse, yet always inspired by a sense of the beautiful together with an intuition of mystery’.
I have a feeling this structure is not what Pope John Paul II was getting at, especially since the paragraph he quoted from talked about Baroque and Romanesque architecture and he further said "Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable." This structure only illustrates the world of the spirit if the subject is psychotic.
"The function of the church today is to bring people forward to meet God in a space where man’s spirit is rejuvenated. We must not forget that despite the fact that our current age has provided great and significant strides in the field of scientific knowledge and communications, man still today knows least about what matters most. The interior also incorporates a meditation chapel and baptistery both also conceived as top-lit inclined and convoluted cylinders," Prof. England said.
When an architect starts with an "it’s all about us" idea such as a place for men’s sprits to be rejuvenated vice a structure created to be a house of prayer and worship of God you end up with structures that do neither.
The subterranean chapel looking at Filfla is constructed by burrowing into the rock and producing a window which looks out over the waters focusing on the small island.
"From the seaside, the chapel assumes a different scale. Superimposed over the diminutive opening is an oversized cross, illuminated at night, scaled to relate to the magnitude of the towering overpowering cliff face. After sunset the two access towers housing lift and stairs to the chapel level are also lit up in order to appear from a distance as invitational beacon-candles framing the top edge of the vertical arm of the cross," Prof. England said.
In a poetic-religious vein, Prof. England explained the setting in his mind’s eye: "One sits on the rock-cut steps within this man-made cavern silently in prayer with a meditational eye looking out to the isle hovering between the womb of the earth and the navel of the sea, between the not yet and the no longer, as the wind dances on the silver surface of the ever-changing sea in a silent hymn of spiritual exhilaration.
"The site retains its hallowed sanctity as a mystical place of veneration in a transformation into what will hopefully become a contemporary Mediterranean altar of truce for this turbulent arena of violence… a sanctuary of peace tied to the sky, bound to the sea and chained to the earth, balanced between remembrance and desire," he mused.
Could any body have an idea what the internal structure looks like from that description? This guy would drive a police artist insane.
Now to be balanced and not overly negative I will try to come up with some positive aspects of the design. I don’t know if Malta is prone to earthquakes or not. If it is this is a good design since even if a earthquake hit you wouldn’t have to do any repair. How could anybody tell the difference? If you were Fred Flintstone wouldn’t you think this church is a fine edition for the city of Bedrock?
Doing some research on Prof. England I discovered that as a child when given a dexterity test involving blocks and pegs and various shape holes he spent most of the day trying the following.
In fact this proved to be a traumatic event and was instrumental in his obsession with children’s blocks.
You can see how the original mockup evolved into the first conceptual drawing.