Tuesday, August 12, 2003

strange church

boynton continued her walking tour of the neighbourhood last night with the rogue bluey obediently at side, again seeing examples of modernist, albeit modest, domestic architecture in this small uncool,well-preserved pocket. We headed down a wide empty vista with bare well-behaved trees and hints of spring and rounded the corner, and suddenly saw one of those bold churches that sprang up throughout the suburbs in the sixties. A bit like this - only rounder. There must have been some happy coincidence of post-war cash flow and boomer demographics and modernism, because all denominations seemed to swap the basic chapel for the new geometrical walled-glass auditorium in the international style. The old building was often retained as adjoining hall. There were a few around that took abstraction to higher degrees, and boynton wonders about the fate of these spacious, oddly-shaped places in the days when churches are having to rationalise their property and divest assets.

The Roots of Modernist Church Architecture
At first this rejection of tradition took the form of subtracting or abstracting traditional motifs in buildings. Later, inspired by non-objective painting and sculpture, Modernist architecture sought to end the distinctions between floor and ceiling, interior and exterior, window and wall, and sacred and profane, which architecture has historically gloried in.

Dysfunctional Architecture
Dysfunctional church architecture has its taproot, not in a poorly chosen architect, cantankerous committee, too little money, or anemic project management. Rather, dysfunctional church architecture often has its source in weak or unclarified answers to the questions that determine a church's destiny

The real find for boynton in all this was this excellent site Modern In Melbourne - Architecture 1930-35. The Modern Strands survey contains many local examples. To be explored.

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