WEAVA Architects shared with us their proposal for the protestant church of Dong Sheng district, in the city of Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. After three years of being on stand-by and having the site relocated twice, the city and the Association of Protestants of Ordos came to an agreement to pursue the construction of the new church. As a result, the team revealed a fresh and even more accomplished design scheme, which is based on one of the most ecclesiastical symbols. This led them to the dove of peace, which is the main concept for this church. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Early Christians portrayed baptism accompanied by a dove holding an olive branch in its beak and used this image as an allegory of peace. The form of the plan is reminiscent of a white dove resting before flight. The peace that passes over the silhouette is implicit from the beginning. This is not only because the floor plan is driven by the shape of a dove, but also because of the distribution of spaces and the relationship between them. The curved walls and topography embrace both the building and the people frequenting it.
The movement that is generated around the church is always circular. This allows for a global view of the building starting at the upper bound of the road and ending at the main entrance to the lower bound. The height of the cross allows for the church to seem like it is protruding from the ground and becomes visible from the roads near and far from the building, becoming a landmark and allowing people to position themselves in the city.
Upon entering the site of the church the essential role of landscaping in the project becomes apparent. This is based on an external prolongation of entering the church. The overall capacity of perception helps to understand the volume with a free visual barrier. The path for firefighters becomes reduced to a strip surrounding the building, while on the contrary pedestrians have almost complete freedom of movement. The landscaping created around the church provides access to the site from almost anywhere.
The main entrance of the church is hidden between two main volumes, the “body” on the north and the “wing” on the south, which continues the idea of enjoying the procession to the interior of the building. Upon arriving to the entrance there is a large window which allows for the appreciation of the atrium inside the main hall. There is a large open stairwell set next to this atrium space that is crowned by a large skylight in the roof. This space between the “body” and the “wing” becomes a corridor serving as a horizontal link between the two and also vertically as a circulation space between all floors, except the fifth.
The interior of the building is conceived of as a sequence of individual spaces that empty into two axes, the main corridor which functions as a link between the two volumes and the space outdoors which is occupied by the park. The program also becomes divided by the two main volumes, the “body” containing the private functions of the church and the “wing” containing the public functions.
There are five floors with an additional basement area located in the “body.” In the basement there are two rooms each for VIP Sunday School and normal Sunday School. A MEP room is located in the basement, first floor and second floor; each being located one above the other. The first floor, also the entrance floor, contains accommodation rooms, the library, the media room, the choir rehearsal rooms and a secure room. More accommodation rooms and meeting rooms are located on the second and third floors with a training room and a control room each being located solely on the third floor. The second floor also contains the main office spaces with additional office spaces being located on the fourth and fifth floors.
The “wing” contains a MEP room along with a restaurant and shop in the basement. The main hall is located on the first floor with the choir room and the evening room. On the last floor of this side, the second floor, there is only a balcony overlooking the main hall resulting in a large atrium space which continues to a height at where the fourth floor would be.
One of the main properties of the church is its ability to make the most of natural lighting. Windows located on the exterior facade allow in a large amount of natural light to improve the interior lighting quality and the main hall is also illuminated by a large skylight to serve as a conceptual reminder of the Heart of the Dove.
Architects: WEAVA Architects Location: Dong Sheng District, City of Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Design Director: Jean-Hubert Chow Design Team: Edward Kwitek, Jamie Yengel (Schematic Design Phase), Cristian Herraiz Muñoz, Gaspar Gonzalez Melero (Design Development Phase), Leila Bao, Greg Li Client: Association of Protestants of Ordos, Municipality of Ordos Project Size: 8,500 m2 Project Year: 2012