t h e C H U R C H o f
the N O N - B E L I E V E R S
“Submitted in accordance with the requirementsfor the Graduate Diploman in Architecture:Building Context & Proposal (5.0)”
“Leeds Metropolitan University, Faculty of Design and the Built Environment, School of Art, Architecture & Design”DECEMBER 2009
S i t e O p t i o n s00
Possible Si tes in Manchester
The si tes I have chosen in Manchester, are chosen because of their s ize and locat ion with respect to the surrounding culture. The area of each si te is very t ight, as I am interested in looking at spir i tual space, but recreat ing i t on a small scale, as I bel ieve this wi l l be an interest ing chal lenge, and hopeful ly I wi l l learn more from the design.
Si te1 and 2 are located quite closely to each other in the Northern Quarter. The Northern Quarter is wel l known for i t ’s cul ture and creat ive industry. Populated mostly by bars, restaurants, design studios, fashion outlets and boutique shops.
Si te 3 is located on the main commercial street in Manchester, Market Street, which leeds down to the Arndale Centre.
I have chosen these si tes because they al l offer different design chal lenges. Si tes posit ioned in Northern Quarter offer a contrast between drinking culture, creat ive industr ies and spir i tual i ty. Where as the si te 3 on Market Street would offer a contrast between shopping, commercial ism and spir i tual i ty.
S i t e O p t i o n s00
Si te 1 is located juston the edge ofNorthern Quarter andalso very close to thecommercial centre ofManchester.I t would be the keyattract ion to thestreet as the otherbui ldings on thestreet are presentlyunused.
Site 2 is locatedbetween severalbars and restaurantsand is on a relat ivelybusy crossroads in Northern Quarter.The area is alreadybusy at al l hours dueto the surroundingshops, bars andrestaurants. Here thecultural contrast wouldbe more prominent.
Si te 3 is located on the main shoppingstreet in Manchester, Market Street.The contrast between shoppingculture and spir i tual i ty would be themain attract ion of this s i te. Thoughthe street is onloy populated duringcommercial hours, apart f rom throughtraffic in the evenings.
T h e C h u r c h o f N o n - b e l i e v e r s
In today’s multicultural, largely secular society, religious architecture plays a relatively insignificant role, compared to the rest of human history. However, as an atheist myself, I am aware of the “spiritual” impacta religious building, such as a cathedral, can have on a person. The architecture itself can create the feeling of “spirituality”, and it is this which I wish to explore. Manchester’s Northern Quarter (the creative quarter) is home to many designers, boutiques, and more than anything else, bars and restaurants. I wish to place a “sanctuary” here, which offers a “spiritual” refuge, without having any religious influences.
T h e S i t e
I have chosen site 2 from my proposed sites. As I believe this location, due to the high density of bars & restaurants in the immediate area, will offer an interesting social juxtaposition, and offer more potential for the success of the “church”.
S i t e L o c a t i o n00
SITE; corner ofHigh St + Thomas St
ALFRED E. MUTTERSJewellers
NORTHERN QTR.Restaurant & Bar
HUNTERSTake Away HIG
S u r r o u n d i n g B u i l d i n g U s e s
Retai l Art/Design/Photography Studios
00S i t e C o n n e c t i o n s
PICCADILLYSQUAREBus & tram stop
PICCADILLYTRAIN STATION2 minute walk
S i t e H i s t o r y
As you can see the si te and surrounding context has remained mostly unchanged for the past 150 years.
The most noticeable change is the demoli t ion (and relocat ion) of Smithfield Market (1973), also the Fish
market has recently been converted into apartments, though the footprint and facades of the bui lding
were retained by Stephenson Bel l Architects. A mult i -storey NCP carpark now si ts on the si te of a
warehouse (bottom r ight of map), and the Arndale Centre mult i -storey carpark has replaced workers
housing ( left s ide of map).
1 8 5 4
1 9 4 3
1 8 9 3
1 9 5 4 2 0 0 9
1 9 0 6
Northern Quarter was
bui l t up during the 19 th
century at the t ime of
the Industr ial Revolut ion.
The area offered work
and was the home for
the growing immigrant
predominantly I tal ian.
This mult icul tural
certainly helped the
develope into the
‘creat ive’ quarter i t
O l d h a m S t r e e t M e t h o d i s t C h u r c h00Located within 5 minutes walk from my si te, Oldham Street Methodist Church is posit ioned on one of
Manchester’s busiest streets, and is also one of Manchester’s most succesful churches. Though apparently very small , f rom the relat ively discreet entrance, the bui lding is most ly hidden behind the shops on Oldham street and is capable of holding up to 4 congregations at any one t ime. The bui lding is in use 7 days a week, and when not used for church purposes is hired out for community act ivi t ies and classes, i .e. salsa dancing.
Christ ian Methodist Church
Open 7 days a week
High Street Locat ion
When not in use for rel igiousceremonies the church hires outspaces for community projects.
OLDHAM STMethodist Church
ENTRANCE OFF OLDHAM STREET
MAIN HALL + BALCONY CEILING WITH ROOF LIGHTS STAGE + SCREEN:previously a cinema?
Ta d a o A n d o + G e o m e t r y00
“Space is not emptiness,space is s i lent , and si lenceis God.” TADAO ANDO
THE CHURCH ON THE WATER
The geometry of the bui lding is such that,
using single point perspective, every l ine
converges on the centre of the cross.
Emphasis ing the importance of this focus.
THE CHURCH OF LIGHT
Tadao Ando bel ieves that abstract ion from nature
through man made forms, brings us closer to God.
Therefore, he uses to geometry to create very
s imple, logical and sophist icated designs.
The ‘Church of L ight’ consists of three 5.9m cubes,
so that the ent ire bui lding has a rat io of 1 :3:1 .
PLAN; The Church of L ight
PERSPECTIVE; The Church of L ight
SINGLE POINT PERSPECTIVE; The Church on the Water
PHOTOGRAPH; The Church on the Water
CROSS formsonly focus
GAPS are left toallow light in
LIGHT + SHADE
Ta d a o A n d o + S p a c e00
The church is a world withini tself, f ramed by the extentsof the surrounding wal ls .
In each of Tadao Ando’s churches he uses 2 wal ls which represent the extent of the
“sacred space”. Ando has wri t ten “In the West, a sacred space is t ranscendental .
However I bel ieve that a sacred space must be in some way related to nature,
which has nothing to do with animism or pantheism” (Tadao Ando, ‘Church on the
Water’ , in Japan Architect Special Issue, January 1991, p110). The wal ls are not
complete around the churches because they serve 2 purposes; to enclose the
extents of the “sacred space”, but also to frame the surrounding nature.
Though al l 3 of these churches are relat ively small , the extents of the area they
sit in and the “sacred space” surrounding them is quite large.
Each church involves a gradual distancing from the outside world:
1 . Travel l ing from the natural world to the grounds of the “sacred” domain.
2. Transi t ion from the external “sacred” domain to within the wal ls of the church.
3. Into the main hal l of the church, f rom which there is always a view back to
the natural world, f ramed by the extents of the church.
This journey/precession is key in distancing yourself f rom the outside world
and finding yourself in a spir i tual space.
CHURCH OF LIGHT
CHAPEL AT MOUNT ROKKO
CHURCH ON THE WATER
S e n a n q u e A b b e y
Tadao Ando vis i ted Senanque Abbey in the 60s and ci tes i t as an influence
on the design of his churches in later l i fe.
Senanque Abbey, France
The 12th century abbey has no decorat ion, inside and outside the wal ls are
bare, making the windows and the use of l ight very prominent.
G e o m e t r y v s N a t u r e
Unlike Ando, some churches and cathedrals use nature within the design
to heighten the spir i tual experience. With Antoni Gaudi nature is
incorporated throughout his work, and in the Sagrada Famil ia in Barcelona
is not only used as decorat ion, but many of the forms and structure are
clearly derived from the natural world.
Also in Barcelona is the Santa Eulal ia Cathedral , which has an open atr ium with
fountains, the sound of running water and palm trees groing up through the space,
around the edge are col lonades, in which are shr ines to various saints. I feel these
elements, incorporat ing nature, also creat ing a very sacred space.
The ent ire Sagrada Famil ia resembles
stalagmites r is ing from the ground,
almost creat ing the impression there is
Tortoise form the columnbase.
The sound of running waterfil ls the space from thefountain and the pool.
The gothic col lonades areornate and decorated, withinfluences from nature.
Trees and bushes are in thecentre of the atr ium, thoughaccess is not open.
Auditorium amongst the stalagti tes in the cavesof Gibralta
A forest of columns. Spires l ike stalagmites.
B r u d e r K l a u s K a p e l l e b y P e t e r Z u m t h o r
This t iny chapel by Peter Zumthor is very basic and draws on a wide range of
design ideas. The central structure comprises of tal l logs which converge towards
a central opening at the top. The logs were then incased in concrete, giving the
outside shel l a geometr ic flat finish. The logs
inside were then charred, giving a stark
contrast between the inter ior and exterior.
This element of surprise is what gives the
chapel a sense of leaving the outside world,
and being somewhere spir i tual .
The small entrance
opens out inside
to a space with
BRUDER KLAUS KAPELLE
standing alone in i ts field.
LAYERS OF COMPRESSEDCONCRETE
FLOOR LEVELSDifference is floor levelsalso implies hierachy ofspace.
HEIRACHY OF SPACESimplied by the scale of thevolumes.
Scale = Aisle x2
H e i r a c h y o f S p a c e s00
HOUSE + SYNAGOGUE
SYNAGOGUE HASPRECEDENCE OVER HOUSEThe house may be inhabited for majority of the time, though synagogue hasgreater volume.
T h e I m p o r t a n c e o f C e r e m o n y
The vast majori ty of people who vis i t Northern Quarter are young professionals and students,
To find out whether a “Church for Non-Bel ievers” would be relevant in such an area I started
an onl ine quest ionnaire. The purpose of the quest ionnaire was to establ ish, how many people
were rel igious, and i f not rel igious, st i l l fel t a need for a “rel igious” ceremony, i .e. marr iage &
The results of the quest ionnaire help me to understand that in contemporary secular society,
though the majori ty of people do not bel ieve in God, they do bel ieve in ‘ceremony’, and i t
is c learly a key part of our culture. Marr iage, and more obviously funeral , though
interest ingly 84% of people asked did not see a funeral as a rel igious ceremony.
So I think a “Church for the Non-Bel ievers” would be very welcome, and would need to
provide a platform for non-rel igious ceremonies to take place.
Although rel igion has takena backseat in modernsociety, the ceremonies,which have come from rel igion are st i l l very relevant.
P r e c e s s i o n + S p i r i t u a l R e a l m00
Like the Tadao Ando churches and
the Peter Zumthor Chapel, my
church is relat ively small (s i te is
approx. 172m2) however, unl ike
those churches my si te is not set
within expansive surroundings.
The journey to the church is a key
part of the design of the church
as a whole.
Travel l ing down the routes
( identified left) , gett ing gl impses
and views of the church as you
approach, should give you the
impression the bui lding is
special/spir i tual .
The grounds surrounding the
church should also give clues
to indicate that you are drawing
closer to a spir i tual space.
T h e c h u r c h n e e d s t oc r e a t e a s e n s e o fa n t i c i p a t i o n a s y o uw a l k t o w a r d s i t .
T h e I m p o r t a n c e o f F o c u s
Mosque Synagogue Church
When the primary
focus of the worship
is about the deity,
the congregation si t
central ly and focus
toward a focal point
at the edge.
In these churches the
congregation bel ieve
that equal i ty is highly
everbody si ts in a
circle, or opposite
The focus in this church
is the opposite s ide,
which is also the
I t would seem that in al l rel igious bui ldings, and places of worship, a focal point is required.
In some cases, e.g. Hinduism, Hindu’s also include the focal point , a shr ine, in their own
homes, to help them direct their prayers.
Though on an unconscious level I bel ieve that the focal point al lows you to focus and
block out surrounding distract ions, which is important for any spir i tual space.
The focus here is the
centre of the room,
where anyone may
stand up to talk.
Anyone around the
circle may talk, and that
person then becomes
the focus of the group.
Tradit ional Quaker House
ModernQuaker House Unitar ian Church
L a b y r i n t h
C O N C E A L I N G
A N D
R E V E A L I N G
T H E
H E A R T
T H E
B U I L D I N G
Distancing the vis i tor from the outside world is important in the design of spir i tual spaces.
Creating the sense of being somewhere ‘other’ to where they have come from, and also
taking a mental journey away from the normali ty of everyday l i fe.
The use of layers within the bui lding, and gradual ly reveal ing the secret of the bui lding.
The secret heart of the
2 m g r i d , o f f s e t f r o m e d g e s o fs i t e .
C e n t r e i s c o n c e a l e d w i t h i nc o n c e n t r i c l a y e r s .
C e n t r e i s a p p r o a c h e d v i a as p i r a l l i n g p a s s a g e w a y a n dy o u r e t u r n o u t t h e s a m e w a y.
C e n t r e i s a p p r o a c h e d t h r o u g hl a b y r i n t h a n d t h e n p a s s e d s ot h a t t h e e x i t a l s o i n v o l v e st r a n s i t i o n .
B u i l d i n g i ss p l i t i n t o 2 .H a l f t a k e s y o ud o w n t o t h ec o u n s e l l i n ga r e a s /a d m i n i s t r a t i v es i d e o f t h eb u i l d i n g .T h e o t h e rr o u t e t a k e sy o u u p s t a i r st o t h e m a i nh a l l .
‘ B a s e m e n t ’l e v e l , t h i s i st h ef u n c t i o n i n gs i d e o f t h eb u i l d i n g ,w i t h o p e n i n gh o u r s .
1 s t F l o o r i st h e ‘ M a i n H a l l ’t h i s w o u l d b eo p e n 2 4 / 7 .T h i s i s t h ek e y s p a c e ,a n d t h es p a c e f o rh o l d i n gc e r e m o n i e s .
2 n d F l o o r /B a l c o n y,w h e r e p e o p l ec a n v i e we v e n t sh a p p e n i n gb e l o w , i . e .c e r e m o n i e s .
EGB 1 2