Huaxiang Church (Church and Community Centre) by Dirk Uwe Moench
2018 - 2019, Golden A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award Winner
Starting as an oppressed minority with few old people hiding in the seclusion of a backstreet, this congregation of Chinese Christians has developed into a dynamic community with mostly young believers. The new generation’s desire to preserve its heritage and to translate it into a form that reflects their standing as Christians today - visibly present and actively contributing! – is reflected in the design strategies which defined shape, space and materiality of the building taking the historical church as starting point.
Located in the centre of the Southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, this Christian Community Centre reflects the vision of a new generation of Christians in a changing China. Entrenched by a historic church and newly built malls and high-rises it adopts the role of urban mediator, harmonizing modern city and ancient architecture whilst complementing the old church’s skyline. More than an echo of ancient tradition, its pitched roofs serve as elevated amphitheatres for open-air services and as escapes from the bustle below.
Design Challenges
The challenges imposed on the project were extraordinary: Firstly, functional and spatial requirements conflicted with height and area restrictions imposed by the heritage authority. Secondly, surrounded by obstacles, the building would hardly be visible from the streets. Thirdly, the adjacency to the old church and an uncommunicative environment of buildings high and low, modern and traditional, Eastern and Western, demanded a clear attitude regarding the relationship of old and new architecture.
Production Technology
The new architecture makes a counterstatement to the irresponsive curtain walls encircling it on all sides: Its facade is finished in granite gravel – tumbled down to smooth pebbles and applied to the walls using a pebble dash technique once typical for the local architecture. In a religious sense, this infinitude of pebbles represents the dual nature of the word Church, which refers not only to the building, but also to the sum of all individual Christians.
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