Portoghesi advocates orienting RC churches to the east. Is this common in Roman Catholic church planning? I was under the impression that RC churches were oriented to the west.
Traditionally, altar is usually placed at the east end of the church.
A fairly scathing review - complete with (ugh) pictures - of the Padre Pio shrine spoken of in Magister's piece by LNM's Matthew Alderman in Sacred Architecture can be found here: http://www.sacredarchitecture.org/articles/lost_between_sea_and_sky/ See also the review of the even more appalling brutalist Fuksas church in Umbria: http://www.sacredarchitecture.org/articles/architectural_violence_in_umbria/Italy has more beautiful traditional Catholic churches than any other country on earth. Unfortunately, they've been working hard to build ugly iconoclastic ones as well.
Francesco Colafemmina is writing many interesting articles on church architecture on his blog (in italian):http://fidesetforma.blogspot.com/The alternative seems to be between the rude modernism sponsored by the Conference of Italian Bishops and the more sophisticated modernism of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
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