Chapel Of The Holy Cross by OPA: Already tired with the overused cruciform concept of churches? Here’s an absolutely new perspective.
The idea of using the cruciform in space formation isn’t very innovative, but using it vertically rather than horizontally is one of the reasons behind the specialty of this Chapel. Cross shaped plans of churches are common since the Byzantine era, but a cross shaped vertical section has not been attempted before this.
The conceptual design belongs to a Greek based firm, Open Platform for Architecture and is proposed for a location on the cliff of the island of Serifos, in Greece. The chapel will be beneath the surface of earth and will open up at the edge of the cliff to give a fantastic floor to ceiling view of the Aegean Sea. The earth provides thermal insulation keeping the temperature stable inside. The optical impact is reduced to bare minimum.
The space is distributed vertically in three levels. The lowermost is dedicated to the altar, the middle portion is reserved for the nave and the top portion is unoccupied and is adorned by a stained glass at the ceiling. The altar is connected to the nave by a flight of steps replacing the central aisle of the regular church, with the nave placed at the level above. This orientation seems to bring the cruciform much closer to devotees rather than establishing superiority, although the scale adopted is monumental. The whole façade itself is in the shape of cruciform and has regular openings rather than making cruciform shaped openings in a regular façade.
The eastern sunlight bursts into the chapel through the transparent cruciform façade and tinted glass at the ceiling, which links the facade to the wooden door in the west. The play with materials and daylight, and the minimalistic configuration is akin to that of Ronchamp Chapel by Corbusier and Church of Light by Ando.
The church appears as a touch of religion on the shores of Serifos. This becomes even more noticeable during the night when everything is dark and gloomy except the glowing cruciform, which makes it serve as a lighthouse as well.