Year of 2005, a small pretty building was finishing its role as a church. People loved the building for more than 50 years but they had to decide to tear it down because of its structural and some functional problem, in other words, simply too old. Children of God need new building for the church with its pastorate and kindergarten for next 50 years.
The site is located at the central area of Sendai, the largest city in northeastern part of Japan. It is surrounded by 10 to 14 story unrecognizable “Mansion” or typical apartment houses in Japan. Our challenge for this project started at the point, figuring out meaning of existence of the church in the area. For maintaining its symbolic status, the church has to be solid, real, discernible and contrastive against surroundings.
When we stood on the site and observe the clean new constructed “Mansion” type buildings covered by modern mass-products, we imagined their appearance after 50 years. They became dirty and ugly by dust, rain or air-pollution. Considering the lifetime of the church, aging of the building is unavoidable.
“Can we design a building aging beautifully?”
Our answer came out as an uneven, bumpy and colored massive object. Rain tracing lines, dust making stains but they do not become dirty grime but beautiful patina on the rough surface of the building as if they engrave time and history on it. Also, the roughness of the building creates a unique sense of touch especially for kids in the kindergarten. When people approach the building closer and closer, the solid, clear and symbolic shape gets blur and becomes rough and bumpy surface appears as its exterior and interior walls. Covered by thick and uneven walls, the interior space of the church makes people feel ease, secure and relief as if they are in a huge uterus.
Eventually we realized that what we did was not designing the entire church but working for making a starting point of next 50 years for the church.