Venice Biennale: Vatican's pop-up chapels bring grace to a secular age

Foster and Partners 
One of 10 temporary chapels in the Holy See Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale Credit: Neil Young

Ambitious airports. Multi-million dollar offices. Innovative skyscrapers. In many eyes, over the course of 50 years Norman Foster's adventurous buildings have come to symbolise heroic materialism. The zenith of that trajectory has perhaps been reached in California: a new head office for Apple which is said to have cost an eye-opening £4 billion. So it comes as a surprise to discover the identity of Foster's latest client – the Vatican. Set among sun-dappled trees on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Foster's latest building is a temporary timber and steel chapel – one of 10 commissioned for the Holy See's first ever contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale.

As a full scale...

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