A DOZEN DISPARATE CHURCHES
disused church, which is no longer a place of worship, may become a hospital
or a police station or it may be left standing empty, but it still remains
essentially itself - a building, a piece of architecture and not a church,
as a matter of fact, it never was a church, it was used as a church, just
as a poetic or dramatic work may be used, temporarily, as an instrument
of propaganda or education or political reeducation- etc.. The powers
that be may use it for whatever purpose they please; they cannot stop
it being what it is, a living construction, a created work."
My collection of quite disparate churches begins with
some very economical ones.
mission church of Saint
James the Great, Nyamandhlovo, near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe,
is a rough and strong church. A building put up easily and for very
little money, without being bare and stingy. A building like a sun
clock, sunlight changing it throughout the day. First the morning
light comes through the light trap at the edge of the altar space
behind the lateral pulpit. During the day, bands of sunlight come
in through the narrow and tall windows - deep into the chapel and
entrance during the winter and as short spots in summer. At sunset
the last low sun rays penetrate deeply into the nave through the
baptistery window. People come to church mostly in crowds - to worship,
to marry, to bury, to be baptised - in trouble and in joy.
made a building to welcome a crowd and let people in and out easily,
instead of the usual clogged bottleneck of masses of people trickling
through a mean double front door. Hence the seven doors and the
inner entrance space between the seat islands end the baptistery.
People must also be able to come alone and find within the big church
a smaller space the size of a tow people. The chapel is that space.
had much trouble with the idea of this church at the beginning Then
half of it was what it became. the other half was a space with an
off centre fat crossed pillar which became a tree of sticks holding
up the roof.
other idea is waiting in cold storage - deeply frozen but surviving
to become another church.
come to us before the jobs. Buildings
must become habitable —even outside.
Metodista Wesliana, the pastor's house and the meeting rooms,
near the old Forno Cromatorio, did not fit on the site so the church
went upstairs. The building is entered in the centre and the church
is reached through a very broad flight of steps. The church space
is double storied and roofed by a shallow and distorted pyramid
capped by an extract fan box. The church is in the middle of the
prostitutes quarter of the town. For me it was always the church
of Mary Magdalen.
Igreja da Sagrada Familia da Machava is a building
making signs. It has a plan like a crucifix. It is a church turning
into crosses at the extremities and entrances. It is a mommy house
surrounded by children in funny hats, wedding hall with a roof like
a gondola. This ship of life guarded by four fat two-way crosses,
with a side periscope watching over a sea of trees and a round eyed
bell box ringing to the four winds, is a house of rolling walls
turning into corners, crevices and concavities, for old men in the
sun, for hide and seek games, for lovers, for young gangs.