The exhibition “vita contemplativa” presents buildings by three architects from Germany, Poland, and Norway, whose work represents an intensive examination of the deeply rooted European notion of a way of life dedicated to contemplation and reflection.
The term vita contemplativa goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle and Epicurus. This notion was taken up and developed in the Middle Ages by religious thinkers including Benedict of Nursia and Thomas Aquinas, and in the 20th century by political philosopher Hannah Arendt. In response to the moral crises of modern times, Pope Francis has called for people to draw inspiration from the Benedictine tradition of ora et labora in order “to find the right balance between…the peace of contemplation and the effort expended in work” (Rome, 8 September 2016).
The projects on display address this search for balance in a common spirit, but in highly individual ways. Their message can be found in the architects’ personal biographies, the location of their projects, and the residents they involve. The focus is not on single-family homes in wealthy suburbs of large cities, but on the homes of people deeply rooted in their hometown, who have taken the conscious decision to live in a small community in order to develop their ideas and creativity.