Hong Kong firm O Studio Architects have completed a stark concrete church on the side of a sacred mountain in China.
Named the Church of Seed, the building on Mount Luofu is formed of three curved walls that curl around the interior like the casing around the seed of a plant.
Vertical ridges in the surface of these inclined walls reveal the bamboo formwork that the concrete was cast into, while handmade bamboo furniture provides seating for 60 inside the central hall.
A large cross-shaped opening on the southeast elevation draws in soft sunlight in the mornings, while a solid west wall blocks out glare in the afternoons.
A staircase on the side of the church leads up to a rooftop observation deck.
Photography is by Jingchao Wen.
Here's a more detailed explanation from O Studio Architects:
Church of Seed
Church of Seed is located at Luofu Mountain Scenery District - one of the seven famous Taoist Mountains in China.
Although there are various kinds of Taoist and Buddhist temples in this district, western religious element has not yet been found.
Besides developing private houses, the client in this project intends to develop a small church for the surrounding village people in order to widen the spectrum of religious culture.
This church provides not only worship and meditation space for Christians, but also recreational and gathering places for the surrounding village people.
Instead of promoting Christian religion actively and aggressively, the message of religion is communicated subtly through the play of light and shadow in this architecture.
Situated within the beautiful landscape of Luofu Mountain, Church of Seed has an area of 280m2 and can accommodate 60 people.
The design concept is triggered by the form of a seed - a famous metaphorical element in the Gospel stories.
A curve line follows the outline of a seed and marks the enclosing wall element. The curve is then split into three parts, and three entries are formed at where the curve wall splits: the south east facing wall has a cross shape opening which introduces morning sun into the interior; the west facing wall is solid and blocking the afternoon sun; the north facing wall is thicken to accommodate toilet facility.
The stepping roof terrace allows diffuse northern daylight into the interior and provides a dramatic headroom increment (3 – 12 meters) from the main entrance towards the worshiping space. Visitors can walk up to the stepping roof terrace, arrive at the observation deck and enjoy the distant view of mountain and water.
Church of Seed has a raw, natural and non-decorative material language.
The main structure is constructed by in-situ concrete with bamboo formworks. In-situ concrete construction is economically sound and practical for local builders. The bamboo texture left on the concrete surface reduces the massiveness of concrete wall and harmonizes with the surrounding trees and green landscape. Plus the transparent windows and doors, and the handmade bamboo furniture by local farmers, the presence of the church is humble and close to village life.
Although a seed is the starting point of this design, the church does not intend to literally illustrate its image.
The abstract form and space of the church is conveyed through the play of light, shadow, material and texture.
This is not a piece of architecture which purely celebrates its sculptural form, but a building which respects the natural environment and local culture.
Location: Huizhou, China
Site Area: 1200m2
Floor Area: 280m2
Status Built: 2010
Design Architect: O Studio Architects
Project Architect: Guangzhou Architectural Engineering Design Institute
Structure Consultant: Guangzhou Architectural Engineering Design Institute
M&E Consultant: Guangzhou Architectural Engineering Design Institute
Main Contractor: Maoming Construction Group Co. Ltd.
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