Thursday, January 31, 2008

Frum Architecture (yaaawn)

K'ah there are so many big new shuls going up. It's good to see communities putting time and effort into glorifying a shul. However one basic ingredient seems to be lacking and that is creativity.
Frum art and architecture seems to be bogged down in the Baroque era.
While some oooh and aaah at the plethora of new Aron Kodesh’s being constructed in shuls..I shake my head dissapointed by the complete lack of creativity.
These days when I want a Shul or Aron to move me..and I mean move me to my core I need to look at the reform and conservative movement or the more modern Orthodox.
Take the Elkins Park Synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (above) is breathtaking.
Architecture has moved on from the middle ages but we seem to be stuck there.
The ideas of form, space and minimilism are non existent in the frum community.
We think beauty lies in another layer of moulding. A quick look around Boro Park homes will affirm this.
While this type of decorating might be pretty it has the same chance of moving me as elevator music does. Sure it's pretty, but it doesn't change you. It doesn't take you flying...
And so we add another ionic column..another ungepotchket moulding and another medallion and we’re all impressed.
I thank God that the Kosel is not in Boro Park..other wise they’d have put mouldings up long ago.

Here's the idea...
What makes an airplane beautiful? A sports car? Its minimalist form.. Its perfect fusion of function and form.
According to Chabad philosophy mitzvos are not to be adorned with any outside adornments. For instance the Talis has no atara and the Sukkah no decorations. I believe this very idea is being expressed. There is no greater beauty a product can have then when form meets function, and anything added takes away from that.
Its also what makes the Kotel so beautiful..and an apple..
Architecture should perform the same function. ideas expressed in form.

It’s about time we got with the times and embraced these ideals that not only bring beauty but also a sense of peace, balance and tranquility. A purity that we can let in. Instead of the clutter that seems to mirror the clutter within us.