Project team:

Client: Parish council, San Floriano, Gavassa (Reggio Emilia)/I
Architects: x2 architettura, Reggio Emilia/I
Lighting design: x2 architettura, Reggio Emilia/I


Products applied:

Fluorescent battens: Ideallux, Cacciavillani /I

20. Sep 2013

Between pragmatic appreciation and never-ending mystery
The renovation and expansion of San Floriano Church in Gavassa/I.

Text: Sonja Kiekens
Photos: Paola di Pietri, Giacomo Magnani

There is probably no other term that occurs more often in religious imagery to describe the divine than the word “light”. The divine is spirit, spirit in the form of light – immaterial and yet able to penetrate material things. Transferred to the way light is used in sacred buildings, the material the church building is made of should, to a certain extent, become one with Heavenly light. The intention should not be to create some kind of scene for specific players to enact their ceremonies, but rather to create a space in which light can be experienced as the absolute metaphor.

In such projects it is all about the embodiment of something that is impossible to grasp at any perceptual level – the essence of God. A very fine line for a lighting designer to walk. In places of worship modern luminaires can quickly be labelled disturbing. The same applies to the bright, uniform illumination of every corner of a space. There is no need to render every single item in the space visible all the time, no need to create an “emotional” atmosphere or a touch of drama or some kind of artificial sunrise effect. Glare-free lighting that permits the reading of prayer or hymn books is essential, and direct lighting of the altar should be avoided to prevent generating the impression of a stage where the main action takes place. The lighting should be designed to suit the liturgy, the congregation, the sermon, the religious message per se. The kind of light that defines the atmosphere in the space, an atmosphere that has its roots in the realms of speechless elation and indescribable experience. Otherworldly and yet not imaginary, heavenly and yet not fictitious. The presence of God in the form of light.
Light already played a central role in early Christian churches. The sacred buildings had numerous windows and openings to allow the sunlight, the light from the Heavens, to pour in. And this is exactly what we find today, or to be more exact in San Floriano Church in the town of Gavassa in the north of Italy. The old church was to be renovated and extended to curb the signs of old age and provide additional space. Architects Silvia Fornaciari and Marzia Zamboni from x2 architettura in Reggio Emilia, Italy have created a composition out of daylight, clear lines, the right to believe, and modern technology. […]


The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 89.
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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