HomeSymbol and Design in Contemporary Churches

HomeSymbol and Design in Contemporary Churches

Symbol and Design in Contemporary Churches

Simbolo e progetto nelle chiese contemporanee

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Published on Wednesday, September 02, 2015


The Third International Seminar intends to be an appointment of critical reflection on the difficulties that symbol has gone through in the twentieth-century liturgical architecture. After years of lack of interest for all related subjects, during the last decades architecture is devoting increasing attention to symbol, this way highlighting the ongoing corresponding anthropological transformation. However, this kind of research also requires mature awareness both of the reasons why it has become necessary nowadays and of the inter-disciplinary developments it has generated during the twentieth century. In the Catholic background there are two unavoidable reference points: Romano Guardini and the dogmatic pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council that acknowledged the importance of symbols.


This new seminar is a great opportunity of sharing ideas, to suggest new possible ways of leading believers into mystagogy through a correct use of symbols in liturgical architecture according to pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council.


We intend to arrange the International Seminar on the basis of the following topics to which papers and posters following our call for papers should specifically refer.

1- Metaphor, allegory and symbol: paths in architecture starting from the Second Vatican Council.

The symbolic dimension has frequently been misunderstood in an allegorical and metaphorical approach generating the fragmentation of design experiences thus unable to recall the symbolic-ritual dynamics of the liturgical building. You are kindly invited to suggest reflections on reasons and ways for a possible symbolic up-to dateness, in case suggesting examples of relevant modern church architecture.

2- Shape and space of the church as essential components of rite. The symbolic dimension regarding the connection between liturgy and architecture.

The symbolic dimension regarding the connection between rite and architecture is by now a known fact in the sector-based literature, but we do not find it completely achieved in liturgical buildings. The shapes architecture creates quite often do not merge into liturgical actions. You are kindly requested to develop this topic identifying connections or integrations between space and rite in significant case studies.

3- Mystagogy and visual arts in the iconographical plan of the contemporary church and in the design of liturgical focuses.

Visual arts in churches and for the churches are very often relegated to carry out a merely ornamental or worship function. You are encouraged to suggest reflections on cases where art is successfully integrated with the meaning of rite.


Connoisseurs, scholars and experts of the following branches of knowledge are invited to submit papers concerning studies on Catholic architecture and liturgy: liturgy, history of architecture, Christian history and religious studies, architectural and urban design, theological, philosophical and humanistic disciplines.

Papers developing the above mentioned topics according to a multiplicity of sources and actual instances, paying special attention to real post Second Vatican Council documented case studies, will be given priority.

Papers and posters presenting the results of innovative researches regarding documented disciplinary or multidisciplinary case studies (theses, PhD theses, specialized researches, projects of national or international interest, competitive European announcements) will be given priority.


Italian or English.

Simultaneous translation English to Italian and Italian to English will be available.

Submission guidelines

Deadline for abstract submission: 28th September 2015.

Abstracts should not exceed 2000 characters including spaces. Please attach a short curriculum vitae (max 500 characters including spaces); in case, images or graphic compositions should be submitted in A4 size, not more than one page. Please specify the topic your paper develops.

The Scientific Committee of the Observatory will evaluate the abstracts on the basis of the following standards: research novelty, innovative character of the method used if compared to the scientific established literature, importance of the case study in the international critical forum, clearness of the sources of reference and of the chosen hermeneutic standards, possibility to adopt the same method in other case studies.

To enquire and send material to participate to the seminar, please contact:

Centro Studi per l’architettura sacra e la città – Fondazione Card.Giacomo Lercaro

Via Riva di Reno 57, 40122 Bologna

tel 051-6566287 from Tuesday to Friday 9.30 - 13



The Scientific Committee of the Observatory will communicate which papers and posters have been accepted to be presented at the International Seminar by 30th October 2015.

Full papers and Power Point presentations (max number of slides: 10) have to be submitted by 22nd February 2016. Papers should not exceed 8000 characters including spaces, and they may be in English or in Italian.

The Scientific Committee of the Observatory will accept 10 papers of 15' each (maximum length).

Lercaro Foundation will arrange an indoor exhibition of the selected posters to visit during the day of the seminar. Please submit posters by 22nd February 2016 sending them by courier or personally delivering them. Posters size: A1, poliplat 1 cm thick, rights-managed images and captions.

They will be published in the proceedings of the International Seminar with the papers. Our secretary's office will supply the front header.

Fee and accomodation

Registered auditors are welcome, € 35,00 admission fee, please download the form from our site:

Free attendance for the selected lecturers.

Selected lecturers will be hosted by the Lercaro Foundation; no refunding of travel charges will be allowed (hospitality is for one person each paper, from 17th March overnight stay to 19th March morning, lunch and dinner of 18th March included). Authors of the exhibited posters will not be asked for the contribution paid by participants.

Scientific Committee

  • Claudia MANENTI (coordination),
  • Maria Antonietta CRIPPA,
  • Giovanni GARDINI,
  • Andrea LONGHI,
  • don Giuseppe RUSSO.


  • Via Riva di Reno 57
    Bologna, Italian Republic (40122)


  • Monday, September 28, 2015


  • projet, église, symbole, Vatican, design


  • Claudia Manenti
    courriel : osservatorio [dot] centrostudi [at] fondazionelercaro [dot] it

Information source

  • Claudia Manenti
    courriel : osservatorio [dot] centrostudi [at] fondazionelercaro [dot] it


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Symbol and Design in Contemporary Churches », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, September 02, 2015,

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