In lieu of my studio project, I was asked to think of the components of an ideal neighbourhood. Coming from Cyprus, a small island on the Eastern cornern of the Mediterranean, I know that the model of any neighbourhood, rural or urban, small or large, has the church at its centre.
Now, I am not religious and if anything I want to investigate what is the new typology or building that would soon replace the church in the twenty-first century. When we started building an abstracted model of an ideal neighbourhood with the rest of my group, they were adamant that the church or the cemetery be in the centre of the community. But by removing an element of belief are we extracting an essential element of a neighbourhood? Can you imagine a chamber choir outdoors? Can the sounds ever resonate in the same way?
Why are we as architects and as citizens of the world so scared to deal with religion and spirituality? Should a church be devoted to God, or should a church be speaking of the community and its relationship to nature? Why remove wonderful rituals man has created and established over the passage of time to delegate his place in the world? Why remove that dialogue between man and his better self? Church is a building that holds the nostalgia of a past form.
Can we transform the rituals and buildings and routes associated with it, to fit better in the urban space?
The ultimate question is, is there enough urban space for man to celebrate the miracles that occur to his life – birth, adolescence, marriage, death – or has the city become completely mechanised?
What is the new church and where should we place it?
Inspired by the following Ted Talk: The world wide web of belief and ritual, [Online] available at : https://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/wade_davis_on_the_worldwide_web_of_belief_and_ritual.html