As man progresses and technology develops year by year, generation by generation; the definition of creativity too progresses, and thus progresses architecture. And so, the architecture of the churches – replacing the traditional definition of church space, and contemplation, and the need for an enclosure to connect with the higher power. No visually different from the modern residential and commercial building, man has taken the churches to another level of creativity, that has begun to blend with the surroundings structures, yet creating a dominant form. Here’s a list of a few of the modern churches, which will take your breath away.

1. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, England

Built in 1967, the design has a tent-like shape, and has flying buttresses attached to the circular central plan which forms a cone while rising upward, and visually continues to form pinnacles reaching the sky. Stained glass windows cover a large area of the cathedral to light the interiors, with seating in a circular pattern.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, England - Sheet2
Flying buttresses and circular stained glass windows. ©Adrian Welch
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Interior space. Stained glass lighting up the space. ©en.wikipedia.org
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, England - Sheet1
View of the church ©en.wikipedia.org

2. The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, United States

The church was built in 1970 and has been designed taking the inspirations from a geometric principle of a hyperbolic paraboloid. This gives gentle curves to the structure joining gently to form a cross. These edges of the cross give space for a stained glass window, which illuminates the internal space in the shape of the cross.

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, United States - Sheet1
View of the church ©Liao Yusheng
The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, United States - Sheet2
Gently formed curves on roof wall ©en.wikipedia.org
The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, United States - Sheet3
Interior space. Stained glass window in cross shape. Triangular coffers on the inner part of the roof transfers the weight of the structure to the ground ©www.pinterest.com

3. Santuario Madonna della Lacrime, Italy

The conical-shaped church standing 74 meters high in Sicily, is believed to be in the form of a tear-drop, having ribs. The ribs give rise to cuboids on ground (which also houses individual chapels) along with providing light.

Santuario Madonna della Lacrime, Italy - Sheet1
View of the church ©www.pinterest.com
Santuario Madonna della Lacrime, Italy - Sheet2
Cuboids on the ground level giving rise to ribs ©www.lasiciliainrete.it
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Interior having a diameter of 71.4 meters. Slits in ribs illuminate interiors ©www.santuaritaliani.it/santurio/madonna-delle-lacrime-basilica-santuario/
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Inside the spire showing slits for sunlight ©www.flickr.com

4. Grundtvig’s Church, Denmark

This church is an example of expressionist church architecture built in 1913. The stunning façade is inspired by the stepped gables of the nearby villages and is made entirely of bricks. The church features an amalgamation of various building styles. Unlike other Gothic churches, the interior is minimal, having bricks on columns and vaults. The yellow color of the bricks represents ascension.

Grundtvig's Church, Denmark - Sheet1
View of the west façade (center building) ©Flemming Ibsen
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Yellow brick interiors and gothic arches ©Flemming Ibsen

5. North Christian Church, United States

Built in 1964, this church has a metal spire 59 meters high that sits on a hexagonal plan. Inspired by the steps of Angkor Wat, the architect designed steps inside so that the users could interact with space and reach for the higher power.

North Christian Church, United States - Sheet1
View of the church ©Library of congress North Christian Church United States

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Interior space. Natural lighting through the oculus above the central altar. Bare concrete roof. ©en.wikipedia.org

6. Church of light, Japan

Designed by Tadao Ando, the Church of Light has a cross-shaped cut in the wall. There is a play of light and shadow where the wall is in shadow and the cross in illumination. The natural material of the flooring and the pews, wood- that connects man with nature, is softly highlighted by this illumination.

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View of the church. ©www.interactiongreen.com
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Cross shape cutout through which interiors are softly illuminated. ©en.wikipedia.org

7. Hallgrímskirkja church, Iceland

The architect of this church was inspired by Iceland’s landscape, the mountains, glaciers, and basalt columns. The central facade resembles the volcanoes, and its sides represent the cooled down lava residue. The church stands tallest in the skyline of Iceland at 74.6 meters.

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View of the church. ©hotelklettur.is
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View of the church. Concrete exterior ©E.J. Peiker
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Simplistic interiors with gothic style vaults. The white color resembles ice caves ©www.pinterest.com

8. Parish Church of Santa Monica, Spain

A unique style, the design has protrusions for windows and tapering end on the backside, designed to fit inside the plot to occupy a maximum area. The church is clad entirely in pre-rusted steel. Due to its longitudinal plan, the windows project in one direction to allow for maximum diffused sunlight to enter the interior space. The pews, too, are arranged in the direction of these projected windows.

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View of the church ©www.archdaily.com
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Tapering end of the church ©www.archdaily.com

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Pews arranged in direction of projected windows (in golden color) ©Pablo Vicens

9. Nova Serrana Chapel, Brazil

The church design has tilted concrete walls on a concave-shaped plan. The walls are bare and kept to the minimum to create a tranquil and distraction-free environment. The concave roof has slits that provide sun rays in sharp angles to light up the interior.

Nova Serrana Chapel, Brazil - Sheet1
View of the chapel ©Daniel Ducci

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Concave roof with slits and entrance creating sharp angles of sunlight ©Daniel Ducci

10. Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, Germany

A perfect example of sensual architecture, architect Peter Zumthor has well achieved the balance between haptics – lights and shadows – sound (created intentionally, softly by using materials, as one enters the silent space) – and tranquility. Yet, the exterior stands simple amid the fields and landscape.

Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, Germany - Sheet1
View of the chapel (triangular entrance) ©Samuel Ludwig
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Entrance walls with tree trunks (112 in numbers) for haptic experience ©Samuel Ludwig
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Roof as a source of minimum daylight softly reveals the textures of the tree trunks ©Samuel Ludwig

11. Church of Seed, China

As the name goes, the Church of Seed is inspired by seed, of which the curvy form also merges with the mountainous curvy landscape. The spatial planning is based on the sunlight direction, i.e., the cross-shaped cutout on the east to welcome the rising sun, a solid west wall to block the afternoon sun, and stepped north terrace to let in maximum light. The stepped terrace takes the users to an observation deck on the roof, and also creates a dramatic ceiling inside.

Church of Seed, China - Sheet1
View of the chapel ©Jingchao Wen
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Dramatic ceiling created due to stepped terrace on north. Cross cutout on the east wall ©www.ostudioarchitects.com
Seed shaped plan of the church ©www.archdaily.com
Church of Seed, China - Sheet4
Stepped terrace leading to observation deck ©www.ostudioarchitects.com

12. Light of Life Church, South Korea

An innovative example of contrast design, the external façade of the church is made of glass entirely to go along with the surrounding landscape, whereas the interior is circular and has suspended tree trunks made of cedarwood. The interiors shimmer during the day due to the glass façade, to be in harmony with nature.

Light of Life Church, South Korea - Sheet1
View of the church ©Jin Hyo-Sook

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Light of Life Church, South Korea - Sheet3
Contrast between shapes – sanctuary in circular shape (left half of the church) and other church facilities in rectangular shape (right half). ©www.archdaily.com

13. Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral, New Zealand

Shigeru Ban designed this church as a replacement for an Anglican cathedral which got destroyed in the 2011 earthquake in the city. But the triangular church, made of 98 cardboard tubes and colored stained glass window that is a feature of gothic cathedrals, will serve the population of 700 for another 50 years.

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Left – Sunlight entering through the gaps in cardboard tubes. Right – Stained glass window ©www.phaidon.com
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View of the cathedral ©www.pinterest.com

14. The Church Of St. Aloysius, United States

Image Sources: Image 41 – View of the church (tent-like roof anchored by piers) © Alan Schindler

The Four Devotions of Saint Aloysius: Blessed Sacrament, Passion of Our Lord, Love of Our Lady, and Choir of Angels is seen in the concept of the design of the church, having each of these in the four corners, which gives rise to a tent-like form. Large concrete buttresses anchored in the ground support the tent-like roof of the structure. This kind of roof and support system also gives a large area for glass windows for views of the surrounding landscape.

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The church sits on a hilly base ©Alan Schindler
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Wooden interiors that connect man to outside nature ©www.architectmagazine.com
The Church Of St. Aloysius, United States - Sheet1
View of the church (tent-like roof anchored by piers) ©Alan Schindler

15. Knarvik Community Church, Norway

The sharp geometry of the Knarvik church soars 43 meters high in the skyline of Norway. Wooden panels on the facades and interiors blend with the surrounding rural landscape. Slits in the walls break the monotony of the piercing form and transform the lighting pattern in the interior as well as in the skyline of the city.

Knarvik Community Church, Norway - Sheet1
View of the church ©Hundven-Clements Photography
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Wooden cladded façade with sharp slits for daylight ©Hundven-Clements Photography
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Uniform-looking wooden cladded interiors ©Hundven-Clements Photography

16. Reading Between The Lines (The Gijs Van Vaerenbergh Church), Belgium

The uniquely designed church breaks from the concept of designing solid walls to enclose the space. The metal framework of the church gives a see-through experience from all angles from the exterior. Yet the form is that of the traditional churches, having spires.

Reading Between The Lines (The Gijs Van Vaerenbergh Church), Belgium - Sheet1
View of the church ©Filip Dujardin
Reading Between The Lines (The Gijs Van Vaerenbergh Church), Belgium - Sheet2
See-through interior space ©Filip Dujardin

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17. Hiroshima Chapel, Japan

The church is built within a hotel complex, and the hotel’s courtyard is thus visible to the visitors of the chapel. To integrate with the garden (courtyard), the wooden lattice panels were intricately created, showcasing Japan’s arts and craft, and intricate workmanship. The tree, as the lattice, signifies Japan’s belief in linking the past to future generations, just like trees in the forest.

Hiroshima Chapel, Japan - Sheet1
Chapel facing the hotel courtyard garden. Latticed wooden panel interiors that also allow for penetration of sunlight creates patterns inside the space, resembling trees shadow in forest. ©Nacasa & Partners
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Intricate lattice panels ©Nacasa & Partners

18. Church Of Beatified Restituta, Czech Republic

The minimalist circular concrete church has been left bare in order to give the users a visually distraction-free space for contemplation. The circular shape of the church stands as a symbol of eternity and heaven, and the triangular plan of the bell tower, connected by a bridge, is a play of shapes that visually breaks the two spaces. A shadow of rainbow colors dramatically falls on the dome during the sunlit hours, the windows of which are kept hidden to create a sense of the unknown, representing heaven.

Church Of Beatified Restituta, Czech Republic - Sheet1
View of the church. Circular shaped church connected to bell tower by bridge. ©BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept
Church Of Beatified Restituta, Czech Republic - Sheet2
Bare walls of the church with minimal windows. Triangular entrance cutting the continuation of circular space. ©BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept
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Visually hidden rainbow colored glass windows ©BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept
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Shadows of rainbow colors falling on dome ©BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept
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Balconies on the inner circumference. ©BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept

19. Ribbon Chapel, Japan

A perfect fairytale wedding setting, the Ribbon Chapel spirals over a luxurious resort in the form of a ribbon creating wall as well as the roof. The chapel overlooks the sea alongside as the staircase formed by the spire ascends to the roof-top.

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View of the chapel and sea ©Koji Fujii / Nacasa & Partners
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Reception hall for 80 guests. Spiral staircase acting as a roof. Glass walls for connection with nature ©Koji Fujii / Nacasa & Partners
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Observation deck for views ©Koji Fujii / Nacasa & Partners

20. Chapel Maria Magdalena, Austria

The chapel is an example of minimalistic architecture and is covered by white concrete walls and glass. The cross stands outside the enclosure to connect with the higher power. The white space provides a tranquil environment for contemplation.

Chapel Maria Magdalena, Austria - Sheet1
View of the chapel ©Paul Ott
Chapel Maria Magdalena, Austria - Sheet2
Minimalistic white interior having window slits ©Paul Ott
Pranjali Karnik
Author

Pranjali is a passionate artist and an architect who loves to blend her designs with nature. She designs meticulously and is always exploring the impact of architectural spaces on user's mind and body. You will find her lost in travelling, daydreams, books, and also on mountain trails.

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