COVER STORY

International CHRISTIAN WORSHIP Centre

The ambitious task was to build one of the most iconic interdenominational Worship Centre of the world with a seating capacity of 10,000 people (now reduced to 8,500 people). Kalayojan was appointed as the architects who were highly privileged to have been offered and be associated with the design of this Worship Centre.

The worship centre would not only accommodate approximately 8500 believers at a time but would be looked upon as one of the biggest and most beautiful worship centres of the Christian faith worldwide. The design team although not a Christian by birth himself, is personally exposed to some of the largest Worship Centre of the world having personally visited them namely the Notre Dame at Paris, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican city, The Duomo, Milan, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul and the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

The designer was not only well versed with Christian faith but was also exposed to historical, traditional, modern, post-modern, and contemporary architecture world over with aspirations of his practice developing the styles using state-of-the art technologies which should remain valid for next couple of centuries. The Architect has also visited the city and spent considerable time there and is generally aware about the living conditions, terrain, geological and climatic aspects of the city including the site location.

Design and Form
The design was contemporary in outlook and sleek form was well balanced in proportions. The form in elevation indicates forward movement which indicates positive change or progress and prosperity for the living world.

The plan of the Worship Centre is evolved from traditional church planning i.e. the Cross with a central main isle along its length leading on the other end to the altar with an axial view. The breadth of the church widens gradually and is the widest at notional two arms of the cross.

Prior to the entrance into the Worship Centre proper a large congregation space with a hood like large roof overhead is planned with a gesture of warm welcome and embrace. The main axes with position of altar, seating and entrance maintained as per the usual church design.

The hierarchy in elevation of typical church has altar at maximum height with seating area lower and entrance the lowest. This enables the awestruck feeling once you enter and experience the space. The elevation profile of ICWC symbolises the hierarchy of traditional church within the curved profile. The wave is highest at the altar side, raising slightly at the middle seating area and ending in a grand cantilever canopy welcoming all at the entrance.

The experience from grand entry to the seating area unfolds as a mystery in focus of cross bathed with natural light at the altar providing a very pious and pure religious environment.

By the time our country awakened to the need of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the firm, Kalayojan had already exported this world-class Architectural design along with all indigenously appointed expert consultants – all from India… and that too for a project of such an unprecedented scale and complexity! It is a matter of great pride for us. Indian developers and construction industry should now tend to avail such talents and experience from within the country rather than outside.

Architect Sanjay Porwal,
Principal Architect, Kalayojan Architects

Virtual Cross
The plan is an overall cross that is enveloped in a slender curvilinear makeover. The main access routes across the church form a cross in plan and is enchantingly held up by a reflecting pool that is cross in plan as well.

Internal Ambience
The internal environment will have ample of dynamism not only in terms of space, but which provides experience of positively influence on the psyche of its visitors and taking them to an elevated mood. The light-tower over and at the back of the altar provides the divine spiritual light. The entire Worship Centre will be filled up with passive soothing natural light with stained glazing’s of different hues.

Foreground and Backdrop
The structure will have an imposing foreground as well as backdrop to let visitors admire the beauty and magnitude of the building not only from far away but will be revealed in mysterious proportions as they move towards the building along its axes.
The foreground will have covered pathways and ramps for access of visitors up to the main altar from both outside as well as inside.

Approach to The Site
The site of the vision is captured by tall light tower over altar. In that sense the worshippers will always looking up high towards the divine, uplifting our spirit in his faith. The light tower also becomes the focal point directing us towards the altar. This gives the journey a direction (physical & spiritual).
The devotes enter the site at 3 drop points namely East gate, North gate & West gate. There is sufficient parking provided for 2-wheelers, 4 wheelers and heavy vehicles on the southern side of the site.

A separate VIP parking (for priests and VIPs) is provided below podium with direct access to the VIP area in the worship centre. A defined pedestrian journey is designed with security points throughout. A special provision is made for the physically challenged to find their journey comfortable.

This project will have a Bilbao effect in the city similar to the Guggenheim museum had on city of Bilbao, Spain and it will put Indian Architects at the forefront of Design engineering globally.

Ar. Pathik Joshi
Executive Director, Kalayojan Architects

Podium
The worship centre sits on podium elevated at 1.2 meters from the axis road on the north side abutting the site. Since the site is sloping towards south the podium is raised approximately to 4m on the south side of the site.

Canopy
As one arrives at the entrance of the worship centre a massive canopy welcomes with open arms into the worship centre. The city experiences drizzle from time to time so the canopy also acts like an umbrella sheltering the visitors from weather conditions. The visibility of the chancel tower is maintained through slits provided in the canopy. There is always a visual connection with the sky through these slits. The porch at canopy is raised 0.45meter from the podium level and act as a pre-function area for any occasion at the worship center.

Entry Point
The axis has been maintained to have a visual connection with the altar and. At the entrance, the glimpses of the altar can be seen which draws curiosity towards it.

Concourse
The 20M wide ramp with a gentle rising climb (mystery unfolds along) is the shift from the outside earthly world towards this heavenly almost magical space. The concourse is along east west axis, so it separates the north side and south side of the worship centre.

Waiting, Information & Admin
The north & south side greets with waiting area after entering the structure. This becomes a pause from the journey from exterior to interior. At the podium level there is an information centre adjacent to the waiting area on both sides along with a multipurpose room which can be an A.V. room or conference room as required.

Church & Chapel
Further down along the rising ramp is a chapel and church provided on each side. The two churches have a capacity of 300 to 400 each and the two chapels have a capacity of 100 to 150 people. These spaces are especially available for small prayer services or occasions for a smaller group or families.

Atrium
The atrium is a 50 M high open space where the concourse opens and feeling closer to the altar as the visual connection from the altar is very strong. This is a point where one is left awestruck and ethereal feeling sinks in. As the mystery unfolds there is another pause in the journey closer to the almighty. This is also a place where the flow of crowd disperses to the north, south and central axis. The central axial arched doorway takes us into the auditorium.

While the North & South arched doorways take us to the pass away with three entry into the auditorium on each side.

This passage also has the vertical and public spaces circulation on both sides and sanitary facilities at each level. We are always visually connected to the altar through the stained-glass arcade enclosing the auditorium.

Auditorium
The auditorium has two levels. The lower level accommodates approximately 5410 people and the gallery level accommodates approximately 3090 people.

The total capacity of both levels is approximately 8500 people seated. The fluid structure of the shell and the bright light at the altar grabs our vision and hypnotises us to focus on the altar. The contrast of the soothing filtered light from the slits provided in the shell to this very bright light falling on Christ from the light tower has a very divine out of world experience for the devotee.

The ambience in the auditorium is very soothing. The ceiling is designed to create a feeling of being in clouds or feathers being almost elevated in the magical space.

It is enclosed on both sides by an arcade of stain glass which also adds colour to this divine space. There are three entry/exit points in the arcade at three different levels of the auditorium.

Chancel / Altar & Choir Space
The chancel is raised 1.6 M from podium level. The light tower over the altar provides a divine spiritual light. A gold leaf background is visualised as the background of altar adding to the grandeur of the space. The floor is assumed to be royal red representing the blood of Christ and divine warmth he brings to us.

Priest & VIP Area
On both north & south side of altar at chancel level are practice rooms for choir and the performance area is elevated 4 M above the chancel level.

The senior priest and priests’ rooms are placed on the south side near chancel while the VVIP’s and VIP’s room is on the north side. These are at podium level and have a private/special entry from ground level.

There is also provision for vehicular access under the podium level for this area with some car parking. This area is demarcated and not accessible to public for the sake of convenience and safety. On the first level above also available for storage for choir instruments. Organ plays a crucial role in church acoustics.

Museum
The museum runs along the south passageway level throughout the side wings of the structure. It spreads through different levels having height varying from 4 to 8M. Museum displays the history and development of Christianity and the church and showcases the development of the International Worship Centre.

The structure being complicated and architecturally critical, large CHS steel members, we worked out matching architecturally matching and structurally stable connections which suggested possible simple connections easy for fabrication work. INSTEEL ENGINEERS were able to complete the structure successfully by using Tekla software for modeling and detailing. The Tekla Structures was a potent tool behind the success of this majestic structure, due to its powerful 3D modeling capabilities that gave us, a large scope to explore and develop routines, do modelling and detailing accurately in a relatively shorter time with highest degree of precision..

RAJU JAGTAP
Managing Director, INSTEEL Engineers Pvt Ltd

Gallery
The gallery runs along the north passageway in the north wing of the structure. Its spaces are like museum at different levels with different heights. The Art Gallery showcases different local and international art forms related to Christianity. This will be dynamically used space with art, sculpture, and craft exhibitions.

Passages & Vertical Connectivity
The ramp on the central axis is the main entry passage into the worship centre. It splits into north and south arcades at the atrium which run along the Worship Centre main hall. Besides, these main passages there are branches leading to fire exit through church and chapel.

Similar branching lead to the toilet blocks and the fire exits at various points along north and south passage. A total of 12 fire exits are provided 20m to 30m away from each other around the total circumference of the worship centre.

There is a vertical connectivity in form of staircase and lift at every 20m to 30m along the main axis and north and south passages. A special connectivity from ground level below podium is provided for the priest and VIP area.

Sanitary and Other Facilities
The toilet blocks are placed in the side wings of the structure on the north and south.

They have placed along the passageway on both sides at three levels parallel to the entry points to the auditorium which are along the podium level and balcony level, while taking care of the Physically challenged accessibility.

A total of 10 toilet blocks are available for public around the worship centre at podium and balcony level, with separate toilet’s for VIP’s and Priest’s and administration.

There are two cry rooms provided on the north and south sides. There are facilities like first aid, drinking water fountains and snack kiosks are made available appropriately at each level.

Skin & Architecture Design Consideration
A non-linear 3D finite element analysis for an integrated approach towards structure and envelope is essential to a project like this. The following aspects become integral to envelope design consideration:

Materiality

  • Response to Climate
  • Plasticity or free flow (Design response)
  • Finish (Design response)
  • Opaqueness (Design response)
  • Precision & Seams/Joints

Challenges

Cleaning
Other temporary environmental phenomenon – Condensation on glass

GRFP GLASS FIBER REINFORCED POLYESTER
The main advantage of this material is its high strength to weight ratio and high corrosion resistance.
GFRP plates can be two to ten times stronger than steel plates, while their weight is just 20 per cent of that of steel.

  • APPLICATION OF FRP COMPOSITES IN CONSTRUCTIONS
  • FRP composites have long been used in the construction industry. Applications range from non-structural gratings and claddings to full structural systems for industrial supports, buildings, long span roof structures, tanks, bridge components and complete bridge systems.
  • Composites present immense opportunities to play increasing role as an alternate material to replace timber, steel, aluminium, and concrete in buildings.
  • Components made of composite materials find extensive applications in shuttering supports, special architectural structures imparting aesthetic appearance, large signage etc. with the advantages like corrosion resistance, longer life, low maintenance, ease in workability, fire retardancy etc.
  • Natural fibres, as a substitute for glass fibers in FRP composite components, have gained interest in the last composite ceiling panel decade, especially in the housing sector.
  • Fibers like flax, hemp or jute are cheap, have better stiffness per unit weight and have a lower impact on the environment.
  • Structural applications are rare since existing production techniques are not applicable and availability of semi-finished materials with constant quality is still a problem.

FACT FILE

Client : Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
Architect : Kalayojan Architects and Urban Designers, Mumbai
Local co-ordinator : Nigerpet Structures Ltd
Structural Designer : Sterling Consultants Pvt Ltd
Co-ordinating Structural Designer : Devang Sutaria Associates
Core Team (Architects) : Sanjay Porwal, Abhilasha Joshi,
Pathik Joshi, Kshama Rane
Roofing : VMZINC India Private Limited
and Vijaynath Roof & Wall Clading Pvt Ltd
Structural Steel Modelling & Connections : Insteel Engineers Pvt. Ltd.
Raised Podium Area : 55000 sqm
Steel Tonnage : 6500-7000 Tonnes