A New Church of White Concrete and Filtered Light


I’ve been looking a lot lately at architecture and how we use light to make our point inside of a structure.  We spend a lot of time talking about the fixtures we use in lighting, but not much time talking about utilizing the existing available light all around us — we have a source of light so powerful that it can give sunbathers third-degree burns when appropriately reflected off of specular surfaces in Vegas.  Yeah, that really happened.

Then, I ran across the Church of Saint-Jacques de la Lande in Rennes, France — an architectural project designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira this year, and this thing is really giving me a new found respect for natural light, both direct and filtered by diffuse reflection.  The angles, the curves, the surfaces — the project is a study in using available sources (the sun) and soft, forgiving white concrete.

Take a moment and check this out, this is an amazing work of religious and architectural art:

From the article at Yatzer:

Located in a residential area south of Rennes in northwest France, Pritzker Prize winning Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira’s newly built Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande is a bold synthesis of extruded geometric forms that both reflects and expands on the architectural language of the residential blocks that monotonously surround it. Known for his poetic treatment of modernism, Siza’s sculptural use of concrete and light results in an awe-inspiring space that speaks of spirituality and piety.

Rising to twelve meters in height and made from board formed, reinforced white concrete, the free-standing building stands in perfect harmony with the neighbouring five-story residential blocks constructed out of the same material. Superimposed on a square plan, a central cylindrical volume is hemmed in by four rectangular towers of the same height. A discrete canopy indicates the main entrance while a cantilevered semi cylinder that sticks out on the opposite side is an abstract interpretation of the traditional semicircular apse, the building’s only allusion to its religious function apart from the slender bell-tower.

Mr. Viera, as Denzel said in Training Day, “You got mad squabbles, boy!”  Very beautiful work.  I really would love to just sit inside there and appreciate the sunlight.

Alvaro Siza Vieira on Wikipedia
Alvaro Siza Vieira on ArchDaily

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