The Haiti Cathedral
After the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti has been in a mode of chaos and disrepair. With technological interventions playing their part in rebuilding the city, somewhere the people need more than just infrastructure – they require a new symbol of strength. While religion has been known to cause wars and unthinkable destruction in the world, in Haiti the church stands as a new symbol of hope and upliftment.
The result of the morphing of the 2 vertical forces – the rising and descending, Urban Office Architecture captures the essence of these in the form of ‘rising walls’ and a ‘descending roof.’ While the rising walls embody the expression of the Haitian spirit, its people and their undying spirit to rebuild their lives and their city, the roof punctured by skylights symbolizes a ‘descending light’, the symbol of a divine healing presence over the nation. The firm conceptualises the form as a higher hand (descending roof) sliding into a human hand (rising walls). The Christian cross standing tall and rigid up front, becomes a pillar of strength for those still picking up the pieces.
A connect with the past is maintained in order to establish some continuity in the timeline of the city. The vestigial elements such as the rose window are incorporated into the new design as an essential feature of the facade. The rose window is complemented by a pink tinted wall, reminiscent of the old cathedral that was painted in a similar hue.
Designed over the original footprint of the old cathedral, the new cathedral follows the Roman Catholic mandate of a cross-shaped floor plan while at the same time brings forward a modern expression of the regenerative nature of cities.
The doors opening on three sides of the church open it up to one and all. Its doors are angled towards the city fabric, as if symbolically reaching out to the most affected areas and monumental sites of Port aux Prince. The new cathedral stands as a modern edifice for the city – a symbol of hope, a change from the old, an expression of regeneration.
Urban Office Architecture
By: Shamita Chaudhry