Geometries of the Sacred and Profane in Lewerentz’s St Peters

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

As the world of visual communication redefines itself around the design of experiences, and as those experiences are increasingly immaterial and mediated by technology (e.g. AR/VR, social media, etc.), there is much to learn from trans-disciplinary explorations of past interventions into human activity.

The architecture of Sigurd Lewerentz (1885–1975) comprises of relatively few buildings though his career spans several decades. His work, encompassing stylistic maneuvers from the neo-classical to the newly brutal, is lauded for its formal approaches to spatial organization and composition. Widely regarded as a peerless example of poetic materiality, St Peters in Klippan (built 1967) is held by many to be the culmination of this master architect’s lifelong exploration of form—a uniquely *authentic* visual and material expression.

Recent onsite documentation and archival research has further revealed connections across his output suggesting that, rather than making a turn away from classicism in the middle of his career, this thesis–antithesis was always present and ever evolving. This project proposes a new reading of St Peters’ seemingly intentional ‘differences’ or ‘frictions’: rotated plans, imperfect symmetries, ever-changing patterns within brickwork and floor tiles. These anomalies appeared throughout the entire span of the architect’s output, but never so vigorously as in this final church. Posited as visual proxies for authenticity, these frictions provide an antidote to contemporary template-driven culture and provide design strategies for creating visual and material experiences that are at once technological and humane.