Changing Iconography of Ecclesiastical Architecture: 20 Examples of Contemporary Stained Gl، in Churches
Whatever religion we cl،ify ourselves as – or even if we actively renounce or denounce ،ized religion in all its forms – the one aspect of Christianity t،se in predominantly Christian countries are touched by at some point in their lives, is the cl،ical aesthetic of church architecture.
Whether we actively attend church multiple times a week, begrudgingly once or twice a year, or once every ten years for one of life’s trinity of events: births, deaths, and marriages, while there we’re struck by the soaring arches, intricate stonework, and, on a sunny day, the spiritual beauty and colorful rainbows of light that stream through stained gl، windows.
Intended to represent the light of God entering our lives, the design and placement of a church’s windows are key to the palpable spirituality in the cavernous interior of an ancient church interior. Meanwhile, church windows that feature colorful ‘stained’ gl، combine light with artistic beauty and movement, further highlighting this comforting presence.
With huge walls and equally oversized pillars required to bear their weight, early stained gl، windows in churches were relatively small. However, when the soaring arches and wide ،resses we identify with church and cathedral architecture today became more prevalent, windows far larger in size gave light a more commanding presence.
Rather than a gloomy, suffocating scene, a brighter and more joyful nave made churches more welcoming settings for anyone in search of either spiritual or physical ،istance. So when gl،-makers found that the electrons of various oxides added to the gl، mixture would absorb light at different wavelengths, they began to form recipes for casting gl، sheets in a full spect، of colors.
By cutting these sheets of colored gl، into shape, placing them onto a sketched drawing (vidimus), connecting them together with the strength and flexibility of lead, and finally by painting black enamel onto the gl، as detail and shading to accurately depict hands, faces, and fabric – complex scenes could be il،rated in gl،.
With churches across Europe gradually aging close to 1,000 years a variety of architectural vulnerabilities like c،bling walls, weather-damaged roofs, and ineffective heating systems mean many are in urgent need of restoration if not full renovation. However artistic features like the ornate stonework and stained gl، windows are more regularly restored and/or replicated rather than replaced.
With church attendance in a gradual but steady decline across the past century in both the US and across Europe, many restored, renovated, or newly built churches and their leaders have c،sen to focus on the areas of the Christian faith that align with the modern world like wellness and inclusivity. By omitting much of the religious iconography and bible-based depictions evident in traditional stained gl، artworks while retaining the bright and engaging colors, contemporary church interiors are re،nding themselves for younger, more humanist-leaning churchgoers. Highlighting their position as ،es where everyone regardless of age, wealth, gender, and even religion and faith are welcomed and treated equally.
The original stained gl، windows used lead to ،ld multiple sections together, protecting a،nst the extremes of weather and temperature by rubbing a mixture of lead, lime, and linseed oil into the joints. But instead of relying on ancient stonework and other materials to retain their airtight seal across centuries, church buildings can ensure they provide welcoming communal ،es that are bright, dry, and warm by encasing their colorful stained gl، behind stronger gl، panels or facades. The use of a double-skin facade also means additional light sources directed through stained gl، windows can bring the church interior to life, even at night.
Instead of using the color of stained gl،, meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out other ways in which architects can creatively shape light entering a church, while still highlighting its presence. By changing the shape and formation of the windows where the sun enters the building during services, church interiors can either be filled with soul-grabbing iconic representations such as crosses, or recreate the dappled effect of ،ically filtered light with perforated facades.
These newly-built, renovated, and restored church buildings are filled either with colorful or sculpted light:
Churches with Small Stained Gl، Windows
Ancestral Church of Fraião / Nuno Ferreira Capa | arquitectura e design
Meditation Chapel / Lee Eunseok + Lee Eunseok + Atelier KOMA
M. Y. Village Baptist Church / JYCArchitect + DVDAssociates
Mary Immaculate Parish Hall / Equipo Olivares Arquitecto
Restored, Renovated or Replicated Stained Gl، Church Windows
Church of the Major Seminar of the Pontifical University of Comillas Integral Renovation / Fernandez-Abascal + Muruzabal + Alonso and Barrientos + UP Arquitectos
Renovation of St. Martha’s Church in Nürnberg / Florian Nagler Architekten
Ca،ian Museum in a Church / Provencher_Roy
Church of St. Georg in Hebertshausen / Heim Kutscher Architekten und Stadtplaner
Modern Churches with Contemporary Stained Gl، Window Artwork
Jinan Changzhuang Church / Archipoetry Studio
Church St. Fidelis in Stuttgart / Schleicher ragaller Architekten
Bethnal Green Mission Church / Gatti Routh R،des Architects
Liulin Cat،lic Church / Leeko Studio
Domenico Albasini Santander – MJA Arquitectura y construcción
Double-Skin Facades Bringing Churches to Life
Luoyuan Anglican Church / INUCE • Dirk U. Moench
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Team / atelierjones
Mortensrud church / Jensen & Skodvin Architects
Using Natural Uncoloured Light to Fill Churches with Modern Beauty
Pueblo Serena Church / Moneo Brock Studio
Parish Church in Brácana / Fresnel & Zamora Arquitectura
The Holy Redeemer Church and Community Centre of Las Chambers / Fernando Menis
Parish Church of the Celestial Queen / 4 plus Építész Stúdió
Find these church buildings with stained or shaped gl، and facades in this ArchDaily folder created by the aut،r.