As worshipping practices evolve to reflect the modern world, spaces of religious veneration are being tailored to reflect the needs of modern worshippers. Cologne based architecture firm RSAA / Büro Ziyu Zhuang recently unveiled designs for a new church complex in China's Zhangjiagang district, marking a noteworthy new addition to this category.
The project consists of a central building surrounded by a ring of supporting structures that will collectively serve the community, as well as sheltering the inner basilica from street noise. The northern buildings will consist of prayer rooms and counselling spaces, whilst to the south there will be a cafeteria, library, museum and a smaller church. The aesthetic will be modern in conception. Curved interiors, formed by numerous metal slices, give the space a very organic feel and the central space will envelop the worshipper in a womb-like curve.
In its ground plan the main edifice will adhere to a conventional nave and steeple formation but, by positioning the entrance directly in front of a lake, the architects break with convention and create a strong sense of connection with the natural world.
An affinity with the environment is a trend that has grown in religious architecture in recent years. For example, Knarvik Community Church in Norway has been designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects so that it nestles into a hillside; while AZL Architects' Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel in China has been erected on the city's riverfront.