Churches are some of the relics that show the history of architectural design. From the romanesque style of the medieval era to the gothic which was then succeeded by renaissance architecture, designs have evolved depending on the zeitgeist.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan (Kenzo Tange, 1964)
Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz, Berlin, Germany (Johann Freidrich Höger, 1933)
The inspiring variety of church designs swing from style to style: the Brutalist aesthetic of Tokyo’s Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the minimalist approach of Berlin’s Kapelle, or the warm, cozy ambiance lent by the latticed wood details of Notre Dame de Chêne’s impressive walls and ceilings.
Sainte-Thérèse-de-l’Enfant-Jésus, Metz, France (André Remondet, 1959)
Taken from a consistent angle — flanked by pews on both sides and facing the altar — Poirier’s amazing eye for symmetry and detail underline the grandeur these modernist structures possess, impressive enough to rival their much older counterparts.
Saint Anselm’s Meguro, Tokyo, Japan (Antonin Raymond, 1954)
“And yet despite their great stylistic differences, the glue between these churches remains invisible to the human eye yet vibrates within each of us: the emotional state created whilst one is present,” the photographer says. “The sense of belonging. The conviction of something larger than us all.”
Notre Dame du Royan, Royan, France (Guillaume Gillet, 1958)
Over the millennia, churches have shifted back and forth from centers of community to individual introspection and reflection, pausing periodically along the scale as a new denomination upset the balances of tradition.
The modern church is a delicate institution; under siege from countering theologies, philosophies and the super speed of daily life, it must at once withstand the constant tempest of change while remaining anchored to tradition. The way the most long-standing institutions have done this is by finding a balance: deep roots that touch the core of humanity and yet a flexible reedlike ability to bend and sway with the tensions of modernity
Grundtvigs Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark (Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, 1927)
Architecturally, Thibaud Poirier was inspired by the astounding variety of church design. There are only but a few physical signs that bind them together: a visual focal point, usually but not always a cross, rows of seating trained on the visual cue, and a space clearly designed to spark wonder, reflection, devotion.
These are spaces that we’re designed to repeatedly draw one in, and create sacred long lasting relationships with visitors. Ranging from a cosy monk-like modest chapel to elaborate ethereal cathedrals with vaulted archways stretching to the heavens, their variety of worship spaces is as diverse as it is personal. In this series Thibaud Poirier wanted to capture a few of the most exceptional sacred spaces, to show how they interpret the institution stylistically and concretely shape radically different interiors for people to worship.