de form follows dysfunction

By Diogenes (articles) | Mar 17, 2006

In the rest of the world, it's still a Friday in Lent, and for our mortification Gerald Augustinus posts a flattering shot of the Catholic Rektorat Church near Vienna.

Makes your thoughts soar heavenward, doesn't it? The sort of place that effortlessly conduces to adoration. I'm sure brides-to-be must seek it out so that their own nuptials might reflect the eucharistic Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Christ's love poured out upon his Spouse. The architect's use of bold cantilevers and contrasting textures shows that he drew his inspiration from the deep wells of Christian patrimony. The casemate at Longues sur Mer (Normandy) illustrates the principal thematic elements later incorporated -- with suitable adaptations -- into the artist's design.

Note the "welcoming effect" of the horizontally vectored recesses leading into the narthex. The stepped platform, moreover, anticipates with its half-hexagon the Vosko-style altar dais within, permitting the congregation to approach the celebratory Center unhindered. We are a 150mm People.

Below is yet another Austrian Catholic church, incarnating a cleaner, more minimalist approach to the holy mysteries.

A commenter on Jeff Miller's blog dubbed the church "dominoes vobiscum." The Mordor Incorporated effect puts me in mind of P.J. O'Rourke's take on the Epcot Center: "the Kodak pavilion's sleek functionalism is for strictly decorative purposes."

Of course, one could argue that the "function" served by this brand of functionalist architecture is not the purpose of the people who use the building, but the gratification of the architect (and his patron). Viewed in this light, both the Bunkerkirche and the Black Widow act as a big, stumpy middle finger raised in contempt of the Church Catholic and of the faithful who love her. The fact that these same faithful are obliged to pay for the insult to their own piety makes the stunt -- from the artiste's perspective -- all the more satisfying.

Look at it this way: if you were a deeply twisted bishop or pastor; if you hated to see people pray, if you harbored profound resentments against the Church and wanted to make her party to her own degradation and demise; if you had your hand on the building-fund checkbook, would you want to buy yourself a Chartres?

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