Church of Suan-Lien Center for the Elderly / J.J. Pan & Partners
By Megan Jett — Filed under: Religious Architecture ,Selected , J. J. Pan & Partners, Taipei,Taiwan © Wei-Shih Hsieh
The church is located near a scenic highway, bordering the mountain area and the northern coast of Taiwan. Backed by the mountains and fronting the sea, the site is endowed with a pleasant view and natural surroundings.
The Christian symbol of a fish inspired the design of the church. Two curved lines shape the fish-like plane along the winding contour of the ditch and land boundary. The concept outlined in Isaiah 54:2-3, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations” was employed in designing a complete stress-resistant structural form. 3D parameters are employed to precisely control variations of the arched planes.
The church’s arched exterior enclosure is clad with aluminum sheets, with a cross carved out at the highest spot, acting as a display of Christ’s love in heaven and on earth, visible along the seaside. The curved surface rises along the shoreline, blocking the sea wind. The tent-shaped aluminum sheets, visually detached from the ground by raised edges, open up to admit the beautiful scenery of the park through the glass curtain wall.
The shell of the main structure is composed of curved steel tubes 40cm in diameter, with H beams forming a fish-shaped dome on top. The dome is tightly bound by a light-weight shuttle-shaped structure to create pointed arch windows on both sides. The steel columns are stationed by wedge-shaped buttresses, clearly revealing the details of the column caps, connecting plates and articulated details.
The exposed asterisk-shaped steel grids extend to the interior and form the structural frame. The triangular space in the frame is fitted with sound-absorbing panels that allow even sound resonance. The three-centimeter spaces between the triangular panels and the steel members not only eliminate excessive low-frequency sounds, but also highlight the structural components. The curved triangular reflection panels provide the acoustic conditions required for choir recital and speech amplification. The furniture takes into consideration the elderly congregation.
By the entrance, the minimalist-style bell tower stands with straight lines that turn upwards overlaping in a cross-shape. At night, the light cast on the curved church walls projects the image of a tent between heaven and earth, with the cross on top a spiritual symbol. Hopefully, the church will become a warm and soothing haven that, day and night, gently comforts the hearts of the elderly who visit.