First look: Catholic church, Sawla, Ethiopia by Dow Jones architects
Images revealed of cool, shaded concrete church, two days’ drive from Addis Ababa
Dow Jones Architects has revealed images of a project for a new Catholic church in Sawla, a small town on the western side of the Rift Valley in southern Ethiopia, two days’ drive on unmade roads from Addis Ababa.
The practice was commissioned to masterplan the mission compound, which currently has a small chapel and priest’s accommodation alongside a nursery school and a community meeting place.
The new church is situated at the entrance to the mission compound, opposite the town’s medical centre, with a courtyard forming the threshold between the street, school and church. A deep narthex provides a shady space to gather before services, and marks the point of entry into the church.
The church is designed to be cool and shaded, providing a place of stillness which is structured by the admission of light.
The form of the building is organised so that light towers project west light onto the main altar, east light into the Mary Chapel for morning services, and north light into the baptistry.
The proportions of the building are derived from Solomon’s temple. The union of Solomon with the Queen of Sheba forms the foundation myth of Ethiopia.
The church will be built of rendered concrete blocks, fabricated on site in a small portable block press, and restrained by an in-situ concrete frame.
The paving of the narthex and church floor will be of local dressed stone.
The project, which is at RIBA stage C, has now been handed over to the Ethiopian design team to develop through to construction.