Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Pritzker Prize winner's church in rural Taiwan

Houbi (後壁) in Tainan is best known these days for being the center of Taiwan’s thriving orchid export industry and the site of an annual orchid-related trade show. But if you're more interested in heritage than horticulture, head to the village of Jingliao (菁寮), which has a photogenic old street and a strikingly modernist church. The latter, Saint Cross Church, is a Roman Catholic place of worship designed in the mid-1950s by Munich-trained architect Gottfried Boehm (b1920). 

At that time Boehm was not famous, but his career quickly took off. In 1986 he won the Pritzker Prize, one of the world’s premier architecture awards. His landmark is impossible to miss. The spire (shown above) is a cypress-framed alloy-covered pyramid that’s higher than - and in terms of color quite different to - anything else in the village, which itself is surrounded by flat agricultural land. To learn more about the church and its founding, see this excellent article.

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