While Hindus make up a majority of the population of India, there’s a high density of churches in the southwest region of the country.
German photographers Stefanie Zoche and Sabine Haubitz captured these uniquely structured colorful Christian churches during their trips to Kerala, India between 2011 and 2016.
“It seems to me that the Syro-Malabar Church wanted to find a new identity by employing an architectural style that was no longer neo-baroque or classical, as in colonial times,” Zoche told Scroll India.
“Obviously the church asked some architects to design these new churches in a more ‘modernist’ way and to give shape to the Christian iconography in the facades. I think this hybrid architecture can be seen as a new interpretation of Modernism and, in some ways, encouraging more modern ways of interpreting the Christian belief.”
When India gained independence in 1947, the churches wanted to break away from the rigid style of the colonizing west to recreate their own modern interpretation of church architecture with localized touches.
“Some modernist influence can be observed in southern Indian churches, but it is punctuated by local architectural elements,” writes Haubitz and Zoche on their website.
“The buildings often display an effusively sculptural formal language and a use of intense colours. In some churches, Christian symbols are directly transposed into a three-dimensional, monumental construction design. We are interested in highlighting the variety of western influences and their culturally influenced reinterpretation by means of a typological overview of these buildings.”