In the project “A Church Without God” by Mexican Architect Israel López Balan, opposing qualities are explored through visualizations of desolation and progress, death and continuation, noise and silence, nature and culture. The word ‘precept’ has been used here as a critical element to suggest processes experienced by people in time and to question the meaning of existence and established civilizations.
A Church Without God Technical Information
- Designer: Israel López Balan [Espacio Cero]
- Typology: Utopian Architecture
- Location: New York, USA
- Project Year: 2015
- Photographs: © Espacio Cero
Time past and time future
What might have been and what
has been point to one end, which is always
“Burnt Norton” -T.S. Eliot1
A Church Without God Photographs
A Church Without God. Text by the Architect
A church without God juxtaposes opposing qualities in specific images along time: desolation and progress, death and continuation, noise and silence, nature and culture. The word “precept” is used to suggest the processes experienced by people in time and to question and explore the meaning of the existence of established civilizations.
Here, the concept of “church” represents religion and its traces in space with human thinking and behavior and includes all things visible and invisible that are forgotten, gradually declining and dying, and things disappearing that shape our subjectivity and consciousness. With this in mind, it is essential to recognize and regard man’s thoughts and experiences as “ruins,” an opposing force and process of thinking that would lead to a new vision and a new life.
Ruins are more than the spatial expression of the past – such as a run-down building. They also stand for all events, thinking, and cultural phenomena that have occurred during civilization’s progress. As the opposite of progress and representing outdated changes that have been absorbed or discarded by progressive ideas, ruins co-exist with the contemporary new civilization. Ruins have a unique appeal concerning the temporal process.
By placing them beside progress, we see innovation and development in terms of death and decline, and vice versa. But instead of representing a dualist view of the world, it is an attempt to broaden our vision to understand the symbiosis between the two opposites, and to extend it to the understanding of mainstream and non-mainstream, tradition and modern, death and evolution, or even to discover the invisible political intentions and human nature behind such relations.
By observing the development of civilization – such as the changes in people’s life experiences and the transmission of culture and tradition- this work hopes to adopt “traversing” as a physical and mental approach. However, as Susan Sontag describes, it “is not trying to recover the past but to understand it: condense it into its spatial forms, its premonitory structures.” As a result, the “present” is more broadly included over time so that memory and experience become paths to the future. During this process, I might be able to recover the forgotten and neglected cultural sources and endow them with additional meaning.
Knowledge about emptiness as the source of development is the key. With this key, we can traverse civilization and open the door to the unknown.
Complete Poems and Plays by T.S. Eliot, October 7, 2004