Project Name: St George Orthodox Church
Firm Location: India
Completion year: 2016
Gross Built up Area: 221 sqm
Project Location: Kerala, India
Design Team: Vinu Daniel , Fawaz Thengilan, Ashand Raju, Melvin Davis, Shobitha Jacob, Archana M., Bibu Behanan, Jincy Rajan, Mohammed Rauf
Photo Credits: Jino SamMore Specs
(“Text as submitted by architect”)
Built on the foundation of a historic monument, this church resurrects the original church which is the first church of the Christians in Kerala, built in 1615 AD and was left in shambles after years of neglect and encroachment. Designed using stabilized earth blocks to form Nubian arches, the alter and the aisles of the church are supported by flying buttresses that were built without shuttering. Being a religious building for a small community, the church would have demanded substantial negotiation from the architect and a trusting client to realize this dream. . The exploratory spirit combined with pressing demands is from where the design is born; which is further evolved through a series of dialogues between the site, the masons, the architect and the clients.
The architecture of the church builds on the imagery of historic monuments but the transparent use of the material in its potential forms gives this building its fascinating edifice. The domes, vaults and arches envelop a sublime central space with light filtering through the cross (an inspiration from Tadao Ando) framing the sanctuary. The masons were trained to create these structures using a chain-study method first formulated by Antoni Gaudi in forms that were mastered by Hassan Fathy. Nonetheless, with all its influences the church borrows, the result is an original work of contemporary architecture that exploits the unique opportunity to build for a challenging programme. By re-interpreting a historic construction technique and responding to the footprint of the structure on the site, the attempt is to create a building made with earth that inspires awe and a sense Of wonderment with its rich spatial quality
With increasing demand over resources, it is the responsibility of architects to use materials with very less embodied energy. Mud as a material can be expressed in its true form through various methods like earth blocks, rammed earth, wattle and daub and many more. The exploratory spirit combined with pressing demands is where our designs are born; which are evolved through a series of dialogues between the masons, architects, clients and an immediate understanding of the site and the surrounding.