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The New Traditional Catholic Architecture

Duncan G. Stroik is an American architect, Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and founding editor of the Sacred Architecture Journal.

In this exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Duncan Stroik discusses what’s happening today, at the cultural nexus where Catholic culture and architecture meet.  

Q. Do you think that Catholic church architecture is at a turning point in America today? If so, why?

The movement towards traditional Catholic architecture is certainly building momentum in the United States. There are many bishops, pastors, and lay faithful who support the movement, and a growing number of architects with the understanding and training to design beautiful churches.

However, the modernist mentality also continues to influence some parishes, liturgical consultants, and architects. It is a constant tension experienced in each new building project, but I believe more people are becoming aware of the need for beauty and tradition.     

Q. Where do you find the greatest support for this classical architecture movement?

I find that younger bishops, clergy, and laity are enthusiastic in their support of the traditions of the Church, not limited to architecture, but also including music, sacred art, and all aspects of liturgy. Those middle-aged and younger grew up with the “brave new world” of abstraction and so-called liturgical participation and have found it unfulfilling.  

Those middle-aged and younger grew up with the “brave new world” of abstraction and so-called liturgical participation and have found it unfulfilling.  

Q. From whence does the impetus for this movement arise?

I believe it comes from a rediscovery of love for the tradition and the artistic patrimony of the Church. The experience of living in traditional cities also reinforces the movement towards Classical architecture, while the experience of the recent decades of architecture encourages us to seek what has been lost.

The experience of living in traditional cities also reinforces the movement towards Classical architecture.

Q. Is this extending outside the US, to your knowledge?

It is extending to England to some extent.  Europe remains in the hands of the cultural elite.  Africa, Asia and South America are next, though. The economics have made it difficult for them to build but that will change eventually.  

It is extending to England to some extent.  Europe remains in the hands of the cultural elite.  Africa, Asia and South America are next, though.

Q. What is the roadblock in many countries?

The Catholic faithful in most countries would prefer the tradition, they just don't think they can have it due to the control of art and architecture by the cultural elites. 

Q. You founded a journal on church architecture, which you have been editing for 15 years. Can you tell us about why you created the journal?

The Sacred Architecture Journal was conceived in response to the many phone calls and letters I have received from pastors and laity requesting literature to read or architects to hire. The people of God have expressed a great desire for an architectural publication which will draw on the riches of the Catholic patrimony and articulate the principles for a sacramental architecture.

A respected cleric pointed out to me that while we have drama, music and art critics in our major journals there is little serious criticism of contemporary church architecture. Thus the intention of this journal is to sponsor substantive debate about this crucial subject.

Q. Where can you be reached?

I can be reached through my website at   http://www.stroik.com. The journal is located at http://www.sacredarchitecture.org

The Catholic faithful in most countries would prefer the tradition, they just don't think they can have it due to the control of art and architecture by the cultural elites. 

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