in Turin (1667-90) according to a tripartite scheme, conceived to express the mystery of the Trinity.
In the interior, spatiality was guided by the functional goal of enabling the congregation to see and to hear. This was clearly the case for denominations that had grown out of the Reformation, but it was also so with Catholicism -despite the fact that Christopher Wren attempted clearly to distinguish Anglicanism from the Roman religion. 'Roman Catholics', he wrote, 'are able to build larger churches, because they need to hear the murmur of the mass and see the elevation of the host, but our churches must be designed for the audience'. This was the point of view that led to the elimination of the rood screens that enclosed the canons' choir in cathedrals, but it was only after the 1801 Concordat's confirmation of the cathedral's parish function - in addition to its capitular role - that the last screens were removed (as in the Cathedral of Rodez after 1823 and of Limoges in 1888).
A similar preoccupation with sight and sound led architects to widen naves and limit the function of aisles to circulation only, and to propose different relationships between the nave and choir, usually in order to elevate the choir. In Leipzig, for example, the church of Saint-Nicolas was a Gothic structure in which a space for the congregation in the shape of an ellipse was created during the eighteenth century. One may also wonder whether the mid-eighteenth-century tendency to build smaller-scale edifices and to adopt the basilica plan were not linked to similar requirements of sight and sound. Experiments conducted in concert halls in Great Britain confirm the superiority on this score of an oblong plan extended in a hemispherical gallery, with the moving of bays to the upper part of the gutter-carrying walls. Nevertheless, it remains the case that in the 1840s, when a counter-movement emerged in favour of the neoGothic, proponents of the medieval style (such as Charles de Montalembert and Adolphe-Napoleon Didron) opposed the basilica style precisely because of its supposed resemblance to worldly and secular concert halls. Yet despite such criticisms, the majority of neo-Gothic churches retained a volumetric unity characteristic of buildings in the preceding generation. In sum, the oblong plan, whether or not in the form of a basilica, seems clearly to have been preferred because of its acoustic qualities. However, a certain number of buildings with a circular plan on the model of the Pantheon in Rome (e.g., the Madre in Turin; or Possagno church, designed by Antonio Canova) continued to be constructed during the first two decades of the nineteenth century.
Research into questions of spatiality should not be restricted, however, to matters of function alone. Architects also invented ways to expand internal space in order to reduce any impression of the finite. The use of a dome
Was this article helpful?