Prayer Hall, Zhang-Jiang High-Tech Park, Shanghai, P.R. China, 2002
The task of the competition was to design an interconfessional prayer hall that will give room to 1200-1500 worshippers. The main idea for the design of a contemporary church was to establish a dialog between an outer and an inner space sequence. As a most rudimentary form, the geometry of an ellipse was chosen for the floor plan. The basic elliptical form is emphasizing silence, contemplation and worship and opens up in the center of gravity. Two shells, one clear and transparent, the other opaque and solid, are defining the architectural space. The first shell is acting as transmitter between outside and the church hall, the second shell is stimulating silence and worship. Between the two shells a passage is facilitating meeting and walking around the prayer hall. A frameless, fully glazed curtain wall anchored with spacers on the concrete half shells is performing as enclosure. The glazed facade evokes the image of a jewel near the river. The roof is constructed of a gridiron system of fish-bellied girders, trussed with sag rods in two directions and covered by tainted glass panels. All exposed glass elements will receive high-grade timber shade elements for sun protection. The atmosphere of the church will be of a distinct play between light and shadow attributing the roof a suspended effect.