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Abstract _ Nadine Haepke

Sacral stagings in contemporary architecture

The starting point of the research about “sacral stagings” in contemporary architecture is the observation that, on one hand, the orchestrated exaggeration of sacral impressions increasingly influences our daily life. On the other hand, a majority of churches remain empty and face the threat of being sold. Spatial qualities and characteristics of sacral spaces are analyzed as well as secular spaces in contemporary architecture that are exceptional in terms of the emotional impression and the atmosphere that help to distance a person from daily routine.

The objective of the work is to depict the architectural translation of characteristics from sacral spaces to profane architecture and to show how architectural expression and an effect of intensity can be created in secular architecture, thus, achieving emotions through aesthetics and spatial perception similar to sacral spaces.
As part of the discussion the work investigates the meanings of sacrality or sacredness (German: Sakralität) and staging or orchestration (German: Inszenierung) at the interface of architecture, religion, theater, ethnology and cultural studies in order to describe what defines “sacral staging” (German: Sakrale Inszenierung) according to contemporary understanding including the consequences for architectural design.

Based on different spatial and staging characteristics, analytical criteria are presented that are used to analyze and compare both a sacral and secular building from the architects John Pawson, Peter Kulka and Peter Zumthor. In conclusion, the specific spatial qualities of “sacral stagings” are exposed to point out why secular projects could be also understood as spaces with sacral orchestration and what turns a spatial composition into a “sacral staging”. Finally, design and practice-oriented opportunities for architectural design are presented, for which this work can be a starting point.

Nadine Haepke, Sakrale Inszenierungen in der zeitgenössischen Architektur. John Pawson - Peter Kulka - Peter Zumthor, Bielefeld: transcript 2013