The Vatican City will make its debut at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, by building a series of chapels by architects including Norman Foster (above), Eduardo Souto de Moura and Teronobu Fujimori.
London-based Foster + Partners has imagined a tent-like structure made from wood, built around three symbolic crosses. “Our aim is to create a small sanctuary space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focussed instead on the water and sky beyond,”
Curated by architectural historian Francesco Dal Co, the Holy See Pavilion will feature 10 chapels, designed by prolific architects from around the world.
The architects were asked to base their design on a chapel in Stockholm designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund in 1920, featuring a striking triangular roof supported by slender columns.
“With this small masterpiece Asplund defined the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter and meditation, seemingly formed by chance or natural forces inside a vast forest, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progress of life, the wandering of humankind as a prelude to the encounter,” said Dal Co.
A ‘chapel’ is a private place of worship serving a residence or institution for meditation, prayer, or small religious services. It is interesting that The Holy See would recognize the chapel “as a place of orientation, encounter, and meditation”. The ‘chaplain’ is a member of the clergy attached to this private chapel, or ship, or as some may remember, their military unit. It is assumed in most cases that the chaplain will serve those who come seeking advice, consolation, or other problems they may encounter.
In an institution with diverse religions, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, and philosophies, I can imagine a chaplain helping many through their personal encounters in new situations with which they must now deal.