Architecture award winners use natural light to give a sense of the divine

TORAH ARK Studio Bondy Architecture; Torah Ark, Bema, and Screen; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School; Palo Alto, California; Liturgical Furnishings; Photo by Ken Gutmaker

(RNS) Every year, the journal Faith and Form sponsors an International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture.

According to Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Crosbie, this year’s 28 winning projects “represent a wide range of work and the variety of responses to the continuously evolving ideas about how to create sacred environments, for every family of belief in the world.”

Nearly half of the projects were designed or created for sites outside of North America, and many employed creative uses of natural light, “making it part of the religious environment.

“While natural light has long been a way of conveying a sense of immanence in religious art and architecture, the jury noted that it also contributes to sustainability and helps to reduce energy costs,” Crosbie said in a statement. 

He also noted that designers used natural materials and “simple, elegant materials to meet the needs of congregations.”

Take a visual tour of the contest’s winning spaces above.

Photographs courtesy of Faith and Form

About the author

Kit Doyle


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  • Architects are artists and seek transcendent themes in their designs, and light is a useful tool, but in the context of the article above this is a case of spirituality lite.

  • Gee, I dunno Ed. Seems like those artists and artisans centuries ago attempted something similar with the creation of stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals. Additionally the artwork told Bible stories to a largely illiterate public.

  • Simply stunning! I’m especially drawn to the image of the St. Adalbert church. It’s spectacular and feels like an immense and powerful god is reaching down to puny humanity. It would be intimidating and humbling to stand below that.

  • As one who in my Catholic childhood was awed by the beauty and the play of light in the stained glass windows depicting the saints in my neighborhood Gothic style church, I concede the point, thanks for making it.

  • My father was an architect who subscribed to Faith & Forum. It’s a great guide for architecture that pushes the envelope. But as far as anything spiritual…I guess if cold, icy and brutal is your notion of “spiritual” then this is for you. The only thing this stuff inspires me to do is keep my eyes shut and block it out.

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