The evolving architectural science means that there are many modern churches today that is going to have one looking in vain for a traditional steeple.
One of the most recent examples, the Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue) in the German city of Mainz, is reminiscent at first sight of building blocks in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, piled on top of one another and interspersed by slanting triangular and rectangular windows.
In actual fact, this Jewish place of worship, completed in 2010, is intended to represent an outsized version of the Hebrew word Kedushah, meaning blessing. The architects of Iglesia Parroquial en Rivas Vaciamadrid in Madrid, Vicens + Ramos, also make strong use of corners and edges, with finger-like protuberances projecting like truncated pyramids out of the north side of the church.
With fewer angles, but all the more rotund instead, are the Cathedrale de la Resurrection in Evry, France, and the Leaf Chapel in Hokuto, Japan. The former catches the attention with its circular footprint and the trees ringing its steep rooftop like a crown.
The Leaf Chapel, on the other hand, is reminiscent of a cupola nestling against a slope. Its two-part shape consists of a glass half that is stationary and a second half made of steel that can be pushed up over the other. In favorable weather conditions, the indoor chapel can quickly be made into a location for an open-air wedding.
A harmonious combination of rectangular and round elements is displayed by the Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy. While the right-hand half is composed of rectangular blocks that house the various rooms and a bell tower, the left-hand side is characterized by three semi-circular layers that grow smaller as you move outward, and which lean over the other parts of the building like a cocoon. Especially for the "Eternal City" Rome with its countless Christian churches from two millennia of history, this asymmetrical house of worship does not just represent a feat of daring, but also a singular architectural highlight.
Others in the list are Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brasilia, Brazil; Chapel of the Holy Cross, Evry, France; Hallgrimskirkja, Sedona, USA; Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland; United States Air Force Cadet, Colorado, Springs, USA.