Newman Beatification Altar

The following renderings appeared on the website of Pope Benedict's UK visit. They show the specially-designed temporary altar to be erected in Cofton Park for the Beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman. As of yet I can find no more information about the design or the responsible parties other than these renderings and the blogosphere's response. We'll definitely be following this. Reactions to the rendering have been overwhelmingly negative. Not so much negative as angry, derisive and juvenile. I highly recommend not reading up on this. Yes, the design is of poor quality by Architectural or Artistic standards (and not helped by very poor renderings), but it is not the end of the world.

It is not the end of the world because it is the mass that is the important thing. And that is the message of this design, or rather the lack of message. Any more attention to this structure would move it into the realm of self-referential architecture, the realm of the fair pavilion. Which would be an incredible project from an architect's point of view (and I would love to have a go at it, as would most of the offended parties I am sure). But we can see from Shanghai and the Serpentine where that presently leads, and that that is not what is called for in this situation. Once again, the attention is on the action and event.

I suspect that the photographs of the event will show a completely different story. It will be the people filling the place and the action of the celebration that will show forth, and the canopy will do precisely what it should do, recede into the background.

Yes, it could be better. But making it any better would only make it worse.