The Church has enlisted several architects in a project that bridges religion and design


the Vatican, which saw its participation, according to Vatican News,as “another step towards healing the rift between the spiritual and the secular” (the same effort that led the Catholic Church to help New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute with its current exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination). For the Biennale, the Vatican had 10 international architects design small chapels, which have been erected on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, and which will later be moved to Italian towns damaged in earthquakes.

The designers of the chapels, chosen for the Vatican by Italian architectural historian Francesco Dal Co, include Pritzker Prize winners Norman Foster and Eduardo Souto de Moura, and New York architect Andrew Berman, whose modest chapel is made of wood and polycarbonate . The designer of the Center for Architecture in Manhattan , Berman had never created an explicitly religious building before this one, though he says he always tries to make his spaces "places to find focus, to let one slow down and find peace." He says that "budget was never discussed" with the Vatican, but that he "started with a sense that working with a scarcity of means was important, as a way of achieving modesty and dignity together." Then he adds, looking at the finished chapel, "It feels remarkable to be asked to build in such a special plac e."