Felix Candela’s contribution to modern architecture is internationally recognized. Regarded rather as structural art than architecture, his notable thin shell structures combine structural rationality, extraordinary form efficiency and high aesthetic value. Taking advantage of reinforced concrete as a typical for the Mexican context building material, unrestricted by any building laws, Candela experimented with the structural properties of shells pushing the limits of the material to achieve extreme thinness and visual complexity of the form. However, in scientific inquiry his radical designs are studied mainly from a constructive point of view considering the spatial and formal characteristics of the hyperbolic paraboloids – the geometric form he works most intensely with. Aesthetic beauty is considered only within its relation to the function, efficiency and economy of the structure. The aim of this paper is to focus on the semantization of the form and the meaning it conveys. The research uses the methodology of semiotic analysis based on selected examples of churches designed by Candela in Mexico. The main thesis is that through understanding the inherent logic of the structure and by reading the decoded symbolic meaning of the form it can be intuitively perceived as aesthetically pleasing. This impact on a subconscious level is considered especially important in the case of ecclesiastical architecture which is both a community space for social gatherings but also a very special personal space for contemplation and divine experience.
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