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Architecture and the Spirit

posted on 11 June 2003
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OConnor, will today (Wednesday 11th June) present the Royal Fine Art Commission Trusts Building of the Year Awards 2003. The Cardinal will use his remarks to call for a greater awareness of the way building design impacts on the spirit and identity of a city and its citizens. The Cardinal will say:

' Aspiration is an essential ingredient in the continuing development of our collective human potential. The architects of the spaces in which we live and work can have an absolutely crucial role in bringing the hopes which motivate us, and the reality which surrounds us, closer together.

Indeed in this age where, for many, commuting has a bigger place in life than community, architecture has its own particular and very important part to play in creating a space for meeting, a space for humanity, a space for the sacred.

The Italians have a word - Civilta - which sounds familiar to us and suggests somehow it should be easy to translate. In fact its meaning is very hard to capture in English. It means more than civilisation, or citizenship or civility. It has to do with knowing how to live in a city, understanding what a city is for, and respecting the complex relationships that make it work. Buildings are never just functional; they always have something to say about the complexities of life in community, and the humanisation of space.

It seems to me, an admiring observer, that the vocation of the architect is a vocation of civilta. In a crowded world where so many of us are surrounded by buildings, it is especially important that we should, as much as is possible, be delighted by them.

Architecture has a noble purpose: which is about meeting and community, about our humanity, and in some circumstances about raising the human heart and mind to the Creator of all things, Who is God.

In a society which lives very much in the now our built environment can provoke a sense of place and perspective, cause us to pause and realise that, like the bricks of a beautiful building, we are more than just the sum of our individual parts.
Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 11 June 2003

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