The Architecture of Hell

If Hell was imagined as a space, how would it look? The standard image is imagined as a fiery landscape dotted with burning sinners and torture equipment, akin to that in George Michael’s attic.

Religion has been the focal point of spatial practice throughout architectural history, from Stongehenge’s earthly placing within the solar calendar to the Gothic Cathedrals of Northern Europe dramatising the vertical and the assension to heaven within the symbolic stonework. Within this scope there has been a diverse range of attempts to place humanity within the sphere of the cosmic order; hierarchical coding of spaces on earth, and the notion that there are layers beyond what we can experience in this life.

Dante made an attempt to plot the unknown in his 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, where he rationalised the layers of the afterlife within the verses of the poem; Inferno followed by Pergatorio and Paradiso. Hell is depicted as nine circles of condemnation located beneath the surface of Earth. A kind of Spiralling abyss with Lucifer lurking at the bottom.

If only something concocted from the rationalistic human mind, the architecture of hell could well be tackled in the same way as a legitimate project, in doing so it is possible to give the catholic church some pointers of where exactly to place each sinner within the spectrum of eternal damnation.

Here are a few interpretations of Hades.

Barry Moser

Botticelli

unattributed

Bartolomeo

Blake

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