Beyond the Sacred Building: Architecture and Evangelization

3rd International Conference on Contemporary Religious Architecture, 14-16 November 2013

San Juan Foundation, University of Seville, Archdiocese of Seville, Seville.

Deadline: 30 June, 2013
Architecture and evangelization have often been intimately related in a way that we could describe as «not very orthodox». In fact, in all passed periods of time, Christian architecture has evolved taking as a starting point the missionary boost and answering the expectations of the institution it serves and represents as well as its specific programme: preach the Gospel and baptize every creature (Mc 16:15). Father Capellades, director of the L’Art Sacré Magazine, remembered it more tan one hundred years ago with these words: «This is a war, and it does not matter whether the churches are nice or ugly, as long as they can evangelize the world» (Conversaciones de Arquitectura Religiosa, 1965).
Benedict XVI recently claimed that the Catholic Church will only be progressive if it is missionary. During the XVI century, the Mexican massive evangelization drove the Spanish missionaries to suggest, more or less consciously, new praying spaces called indian chapels or open chapels. Circumstances -and not theoretical reflection-managed to fix the model, making it survive in time until it became, for many, the most original architectural contribution of the American culture until the arrival of the skyscrapers.
Likewise, Pope John Paul II´s traveling around the world, coming from his deep preaching activity, gave rise to new architectural spaces, themselves unexpected, derived from the missionary breath that characterized his long pontificate.
That is why we could wonder: What shapes does the ultramodern religious architecture adopt, the one found in the front line of the mission? What the expectations are from the Christian worship spaces regarding the new pastoral trends? Does the architecture as discipline have resources to fulfill these expectations? What new architectural innovations are being launched?
In the realm of religious architecture, because of the dramatic technological and social changes in the last few years, the controversy created by applying the liturgical reforms promoted by the Vatican II Council was in certain way overwhelmed by the events. «After all –concludes Marc Fumaroli- it is easier to attend a big mass in front of a giant screen installed outside St. Peter in Rome or Notre-Dame in Paris than inside the nave» (Paris-New York-Paris, 2010).
In the context of the Year of Faith in which the Catholic Church is immersed right now, the 3rd International Conference on Contemporary Religious Architecture, held in Seville, on 14th, 15th and 16th of November 2013, aims at becoming a meeting point for all the researchers interested in these topics.

  • Open air altars for events attended by a large number of people.
  • Large liturgical containers for mass meetings.
  • Official pavilions of The Holy See or of religious institutions in thematic or world’s fairs.
  • Permanent worship spaces in universities, ships, military bases, airports, sports centers, international fairs, exhibitions, etc.
  • Temporary worship spaces in parks, beaches, shopping centers, seasonal tourist resorts, etc.
  • Worship spaces and new ecclesiastical shades.
  • Worship spaces for emergency situations.
  • Churches in countries with Christian minority.

Further reflection
Referring to the Global-Art-Fusion action, carried out on the 12th of January, 1985, by Joseph Beuys (Düsseldorf), Andy Warhol (New York) and Kaii Higashiyama (Tokyo), Maribel Alba Dorado recently commented:

«Nowadays, we observe how the media culture starts to draw new virtual sceneries inhabited only by men, where distances become shorter, to a point of turning into instants, and the images are played in such way that they are no longer anchored to a precise place, but wandering randomly around the world.

The new communication media have altered the spatial relations with the territory that cities held for centuries. The contemporary city has split up in multiple fragments of time and space that makes such urban nucleus coincide not only with one with physical presence, but also with the one shaped by the information streams (…), parallel to the evolution of the contemporary individual and his influential virtual presence.

However, in spite of living in a more and more diverse society, ubicuous due to the media culture, able to foster multiple presences and simultaneous experiences, we developed, at the same time, deep feelings of isolation and loneliness. Today, more than ever before, people long to belong to a place, a group» (, 28/10/2010).

Chair, Esteban Fernández-Cobián · University of A Coruña
Scientific Committee
Andrea Longhi · Polytechnic of Turin
Eduardo Delgado Orusco · Polytechnic University of Madrid
Giorgio della Longa · Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna
Mercé Gambús Saiz · University of the Balearic Islands
Victoriano Saiz Gutiérrez · University of Seville
Walter Zahner · Curator at the Bishops Conference of Germany
Zorán Vukoszávlyev · University of Technology and Economics Budapest
Pablo Millán Millán · University of Seville
How to participate
You may participate to the conference with Papers or Board Panels.
Those interested in participating with a paper must send an abstract (300 words) and a summarised CV (150 words) to the Conference Secretariat.  Deadline: 30st of June, 2013
The papers will have a máximum length of 2000 words, written in Word (doc or rtf) format. NOTE: docx format is EXCLUDED.  A maximum of 20 images in independent jpg files, referred to at the end of the text, (Fig. 01) may be included.  All the bibliographical references will be adjusted to the criteria established in The Chicago Style (Notes and Bibliography). A list of selected papers will be published in this web on the 15th of July, 2013. Once the Conference has finished all the accepted papers will be published in a digital journal with a specifically assigned ISSN.
Board Panels
The second modality to take part in the Conference will be the Panel – Board format.
A PRAYER AND SILENCE SPACE will be planned, adaptable to diverse urban circumstances, where one can attend individually or in group, to retreat in silence and worship the Eucharist. The site must provide the possibility to celebrate Catholic worshipping events. Versatility, portability and iconic capacity will be valued.
The project will be submitted in a single DIN A1 vertical panel, which will include maps, images and a small text (250 words máximum).
Deadline: 15th of October, 2013.
The Project will be sent to the Conference Secretariat in two formats: digital pdf format (via e-mail) and physical-rigid format (by post).
All the Conference participants will be able to vote the best design, which will be registered as such in the records.
Spanish and English.  During the Conference, there will be simultaneous translation.
Key dates
30 June 2013 · Presentation of the papers.
15 July 2013 · Publication of the selected papers (reading and proceedings).
15 October 2013 · Reception of the full papers and panel boards.
14-16 November 2013 · Conference is held.

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