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Thursday24 July 2014

First look: Catholic church, Sawla, Ethiopia by Dow Jones architects

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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.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • A space ship has landed in Sawla. Promotes the traditional view of the catholic church being put on a pedestal in Africa. Wheres the sense of community, humanity or compassion. Ideals espoused by the church. Oh I forgot- compassion doesnt photograph well in an architecture magazine.

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  • Freddie Ridley-Hampton

    I say! Are these chaps sure that the light well will bring down the amount of light in the visual. The 3d looks to me to be allowing more light in than possible! Maybe it's gods doing! Huzzar!

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  • first look and last I hope

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  • Stewie

    Looks like some sketchup model some student knocked out while on work experience.

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  • I am enjoying the volumes and the play of light suggested in these images. It's a pleasant change to see a physical model photograph appear in BD instead of the usual flashy 3d renderings.

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