Church of God, Elevator

[Image: Chartres Cathedral as rendered in Quake 3, via Quake 3 World, an image that has almost nothing to do with this post].

When Mark Twain visited Montreal in 1881, he said that it was the first time he'd ever been in a city "where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window." Montreal, you see, has lots of churches.
Twain was then told, however, that the city would soon build another church – and perhaps another, and another – and "I said the scheme is good," Twain responded, "but where are you going to find room? They said, we will build it on top of another church and use an elevator."
Church of God, Elevator.
Does this off-the-cuff remark from a 19th century novelist exhibit a more adventurous sense of space and structure than the buildings which pass for architectural design today?
In any case, all of this reminds me of a post here on BLDGBLOG last summer in which it was proposed that "elevators could be used as prayer chapels – vertically nomadic radial spaces in which the pious... could spend time alone and think."
Paraphrasing myself, then, a year later, could you construct an earthless Vatican made of nothing but elevators riding up and down throughout the atmosphere? Off in the urban distance you see what surely must be a mirage: a glass and steel cathedral hovering two miles off the surface of the earth, made of nothing but elevator-chapels, a metallic mist of lifts, a sky-cloud of holy space in western sunlight.
From earth to the moon, on the Sistine Elevator.

(Twain quotation found thanks to an anonymous commenter on this post this morning).

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Laura said...

As a Catholic, I say: sure, why not? I like it. Lets shake things up a bit, the church needs it, and so does Church architecture.

December 18, 2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger fleur de gris said...

remember roald dahl's glass elevator? two of its primary stops are 'the great space hotel' and 'minusland'. he was on to something...

on another note, it's possible, given the symbols on the door, that any outhouses remaining in the distand future could be mistaken for small chapels.

December 19, 2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger César said...

The elevators should be the confessionals. You get ready for mass with getting purified on the way up (all very symbolic). You probably do penitence on the way down.

December 21, 2007 11:14 AM  
Anonymous fcs said...

This brings to mind the elevators and trains used for transportation in the J.G. Ballard story "The Concentration City."

December 23, 2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Dominic said...

I'm just going to throw this one at you Geoff.
You brought it up with the Chartres-Quake mash up.

There's a whole genre of architecture out there connected in some ways to Sci-fi.
The structures that contextualize computer games, from the pseudo-stempunk of Myst, to the thousand mile high skyscraper in unreal tournament. Often some of the bloodiest games have some of the most incredibly scenic environs. Whether because of the game developers' plans or because of some endeavouring third party who hosts his file online.

December 25, 2007 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

My daughter did an installation about absolution. You record your sin after hearing the one of the person before you:
http://www.helpmefindmycellphone.com/jenn/portfolio/absolution/index.html#[]

Kind of a "Self-Serve" church.

The link isn't commercial, it's just a place where I had plenty of space to let her park after she lost her Carnegie-Mellon space. She did onecoldhand.com too.

August 15, 2010 10:51 PM  

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