An Architecture of Ineloquence: A Study in Modern Architecture and Religion, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

An Architecture of Ineloquence

A Study in Modern Architecture and Religion, 1st Edition

By J.K. Birksted


180 pages

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Set on a hillside near Cluny, in a region associated with religious institutions and sacred architecture (including Le Corbusier's La Tourette), Le Carmel de la Paix, designed by José Luis Sert, remains tranquilly unvisited and quietly erased from architectural history. Why? This unusual convent falls outside the standard categories of Sert's architecture and has been overlooked in most publications about his work. As J.K. Birksted explains, the design and construction process for this building proved nightmarish, resulting in a building which, at first sight, appears to be 'ineloquent'. This first detailed examination of this building shows how the convent and the story of its creation offer valuable and important new insights into Sert, his architecture and his life. However, the study also opens up discussions on wider subjects such as the relationships between modernist architecture and ecclesiastical architecture. The design and construction of the Carmel de la Paix (1968-1972) followed the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962-1965), which introduced fundamental changes and proposals for renewing the relationship between the Church and the changing modern world and the convent provides an interesting illustration of this period. In addition, it offers insights into the fascinating world of the Carmelite order and its specific liturgical requirements, and, reflecting on the nuns' active involvement in the design and construction process, it also explores wider issues of women in architecture.


'Ultimately, Sert and his client produced an architectural work that Birksted describes as ineloquent,� a word he uses to convey muteness, blankness, emptiness, devoid of the symbols and pomp that one typically associates with religious architecture. This is as the nuns wished their convent to be-simple, spare, ordinary, ascetic-in order to prepare oneself for the divine.' Journal of Architectural Education

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Jaume Freixa; Preface; ’Ordinary human beings going back and forth’ Work; Archaism; Ineloquence; Concrete as skin; Appendix: chronology of the Carmel de la Paix; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr J.K. Birksted is Reader in Architecture at the Bartlett School, University College London, UK.

About the Series

Ashgate Studies in Architecture

Ashgate Studies in Architecture
The discipline of Architecture is undergoing subtle transformation as design awareness permeates our visually dominated culture. Technological change, the search for sustainability and debates around the value of place and meaning of the architectural gesture are aspects which will affect the cities we inhabit. This series seeks to address such topics, both theoretically and in practice, through the publication of high quality original research, written and visual. Topics to be covered include the following: Architectural history and theory and their relationship to the development of the discipline, building conservation, heritage and creative adaptation. The formal and aesthetic values of architectural design, the diversity of its expression of identity, and its representation in other media. The impact of technological innovation on the materialisation of architecture and the questions surrounding environmental sustainability, experimentation and visionary design The social and psychological context of architectural production, its relationship to occupants, clients and to other creative and professional disciplines, and the political situation in which it is commissioned. Proposals will be welcomed which explore or connect aspects of these themes. Subjects which deal with individual architects, with specific buildings or building types, and the critical interpretation of historical and contemporary architecture from a theoretical or philosophical perspective are particularly encouraged. Architecture's embodiment of technical, social, and aesthetic aspects will also be emphasised.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Individual Architects & Firms / General