LocationUlsan, South Korea
Architect in ChargeYoo, Byungan
Structure EngineerHi Structural Engineers
ConstructionCheonyoung Construction, archigroup MA
Mechanical EngineerMido Technology Office
Electric EngineerKukdong Munhwa Engineering Consultant
Text description provided by the architects. The Inbo Catholic Church is located in the centre of a small town surrounded by mountains. A priest's room, the church, and an office are located in ground floor, and the service facilities are located underground. The segmented volumes of the church, separated by functions, are in harmony with the small scale of the rural town.
The steep roof of the church harmonizes with surrounded mountains to become the symbolic center of the village. The spacious exterior between volumes is accessible from anywhere as a common open yard for the village. It provides spatial interest and a sense of continuity with stairs, ramps and walls. The church despite its small size resembles a small town and its alleyways.
A high proportion of parishioners, spatial demands and a limited budget were key elements to decide the form, composition of space and materials. Considering the usage of stairs by the elderly, the church is set half-level up from the yard, and the hall, the classroom, and toilets are set half-level down. Exterior walls and the roof of the church with chipped concrete finish give the impression of rough stone.
Simply formed spaces show moderate finishes and materials due to the low budget, but the humble simplicity has permanency as other religious constructions. Intention of making a sacred space for prayers is shown in the bright white space right through to the empty framed cross at the moment of entering. The spatial layout of the church conforms with the early church architecture. The position and access to the choir loft are derived from the construction of the Gothic Church.
The other buildings
The existing priest's room is renovated as an office of the church, which links the new church and the village buildings harmoniously. The maintenance of the existing priest's room was controversial during the construction process. It was decided to keep it with the existing rusty bell tower inside a new concrete structure to evoke the old. Parts of the wood flooring from the old community building were sorted and reused for the walls of the confessional of the new church. By this, the architect expresses his values that space should reflect the site's memories and its people's stories, and that architecture should not be a process of demolishing the old to make way for the new.
The priest's room was positioned for easy access to the church, and the space was laid out for its practical use. A small yard and a balcony of the first floor together creates an open space for the priest away from onlookers. The space of the ground floor is planned as a kitchen and a sitting room, and the space of the first floor is planned as a priest's own space and a study.
Today, Megachurches, enormous catholic churches, ultramodern Buddhist temples are rampant. The Inbo Catholic Church is designed to be faithful to its proper function. It is the architect's sincere desire for this small church to be in harmony with the old and the new, and to become an interactive space for the community of the village.