Remember high school? I try not to, but I was recently reminded of my cantankerous eleventh-grade art teacher. Once, she assigned us to draw the elevation of a non-existent religious structure and render the elevation with watercolors. My attitude (about everything) was something along the lines of “typology is stupid” so I drew a wonky roof supported by two stucco boxes punctuated with commercial glazing tinted black. This was not met with approval, and although my drawing and watercoloring were technically good, my design was technicallya gross frankenchurch assembled from chunks of a strip mall and covered with a roof that looked like a body bag.
But I didn’t learn my lesson. I still don’t think that churches are supposed to look a certain way or even feel like a church. Besides, churches always feel like prison to me so instead of going to church twice I year I watch Ernest Goes to Jail. Yes, I recognize the bias I bring into a religious space even if everyone else is still eager to read and assign symbolism as if their opinion were empirical evidence.
When I first saw images of the Sunset Chapel by BUNKR Arquitectura, I thought it was a fairly straightforward and interesting project (my bias here is that I like both faceted geometries and slightly off-kilter perspectives.) But not everyone agrees. Reading through the comments on this Dezeen article I was reminded of my art teacher listing the proper attributes of a church. Even a congregation of architects, maybe especially a congregation of architects, would argue about such things until they agreed to split and build two churches… and then four. Both churches and architects can be a fractious bunch.
Does this chapel look like a chapel? Does it make sense as a place to mourn or does it make sense in the context of craggy Acapulco? Some will say yes and some will say no, but it’s not for virtual visitors. Ask someone who entombed a loved one there. Did he/she feel anchored or seasick by this wonky concrete rock?
They were probably worried about other things, but that’s just my opinion.