Accommodating the Apocalypse: An examination of the relationships between the economics of salvation and the architecture of the Breton enclos

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The distancing from notions of the apocalypse will be examined through an investigation of the architectural ensemble of the Breton enclos, or parish close. The enclos is an arrangement of religious architecture found in towns and villages all over Brittany. It is an ensemble that developed over a period of about two hundred years, and although the formal attributes of an enclos vary, its constituent parts are constant. These parts were added gradually: what is suggested here is that each architectural addition marked a further attempt to accommodate the apocalyptic or malefic dimension of the divine, in order to allow the 'good' dimension of religion to be manipulated by society. Moving from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, the elusion of the 'fundamental question' (Bataille) - the question of the inter-relationship between individual and world - increased: the violence of the apocalypse was tempered and re-presented in a palatable form. Effectively, this violence was denied and covered over, both individually and communally, and the consequences of this shift in relationships can be observed in the enclos (as elsewhere). The economics of this situation (the economics of salvation) will be examined, along side the role of architecture, straddling both real and symbolic expenditures, which changed to suit the demands of a changing society.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-277
JournalThe Journal of Architecture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001