St. George and St. Joseph Church, Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada

WOW
THE PARTICIPATION
A licensed Coptic architect did a preliminary design. As the land was purchased, I was asked to build a Foam Board model for a fund raising. A poured in place concrete structure type building represents the phase I that consists of a 100’X70’ multi-purpose hall, 24 classrooms for Sunday school, a chapel, Basketball Gymnasium and kitchen.
Before the Phase I get completely built, I joined the Canadian architect firm. As project architect, I produced all construction documents for Phase II. A metal structure with brick veneer building, Pre-cast concrete panel covered the flat areas of the roof of a cross shape. Unfortunately, I was not involved in the construction, but I delivered a plexi-glass with lighting model to help the fund raising. Later on, the parking lot was enlarged and I redesigned some of the classrooms for a day-care that had received a permit from the authorities but was abandoned by the community.

  

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THE EXPERIENCE
 The enormous inclination of the piece of land was used as per the preliminary design to make the main church level, upstairs, accessible by the handicapped by creating a vehicle drive way reaching that level. Without that solution an elevator was indispensable as required by the local building code.
 The strong desire of the board of the church to enlarge the main church in order to accommodate the growing number of members, was the origin of the sacrifice of the skylights (That you can see in the preliminary model). The result is a completely dark multi-purpose hall and the half of the classrooms.
 A very well designed U shaped corridor is communicating the half of the classrooms on a Mezzanine level looking on the multi-purpose hall. The other half of the classrooms is accessible from the hall itself.
 Despite the problems we had to brace the two towers with the main structure and the large span under the dome, a real two crossed vaults with a dome at their intersection created a sacred Coptic interior atmosphere. Although the dome, above the altar, is missed, a continuous smaller vault that joins the main vault with the niche (hodn el-Ab) translated the level of holiness of the altar. Rose windows on elevations that have the same centers as the interior vault expressed clearly the interior concept from outside.
 Spotlights applied in the vault above the altar damaged some of the holiness of that area.

The final result, as always, is a real candle that glows in the dark by the church’s occupants.

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