Contemporary architecture has been trivialized spurred on by a profit-driven construction industry on the one hand and aspiring intellectual designers on the other. At a time of increasing social inequality, threats of nuclear proliferation, widespread spiritual and moral fatigue, disintegration of the social nucleus, lifestyle- and environment-dependant illnesses of epidemic proportions, alarming frequency and intensity of natural disasters, terrorism, global warming, deforestation, air pollution, acid rain, ozone depletion, the extinction of species, limited natural resources and a dwindling food supply, architecture has either been absent or responded with inconsequential metaphors.
At the current point in history, there is an appropriate concern for the environment, global warming, pollution, and the consumption of natural resources. Although the theories vary and multiple causes are cited, very few people would promote an absence of any environmental goals. Most people care enough about future generations to accept the notion of sustainability as presented by Gro Brundtland: “Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”1 I will leave it to others to write further about why this came to pass, who is to blame, and how bad things are. In my role as a professor of environmental controls in Architecture, I have spent a lifetime teaching students the physical aspects of how to go about building sustainable architecture. But I have also seen the profession of Architecture largely ignore the energy crisis and continue to resist addressing issues of sustainability in the architectural movements and styles which are popular among academics, critics, or the general public. They are more interested in aesthetics, and to some extent that is appropriate, but it leaves us with only one option: to define aesthetics in a fashion which incorporates the goals and procedures of energy conservation and sustainability as a whole.
For centuries, liturgical, large-scale windows metaphorically shielded the sacred from the profane, embued light with spiritual presence, and literally illuminated divine messages. During war reparations, Germany’s shattered postwar outlook challenged a new generation of artists with the daunting task of establishing new religious symbols to speak authentically into a deeply crushed, cynical national conscience. Subsequently, while Germany’s parishes dwindled, glass artists readjusted to a new clientele: dutiful streams of international tourists whose entry fees bankrolled Germany’s historical churches. This original research explores the unique liturgical iconography developed to address a nation’s broken faith, and a global audience’s comprehension in a secularized culture.