St. Mark’s Cathedral Resource Centre Bangalore, India: 2007
Program: Renovation and extension of existing parish hall with new facility for fellowship, counseling, teaching, training and Padre’s office.
After the fourth Mysore war ended in 1799 AD with the fall of Srirangapatnam (then known as Seringapatana), the British decided to station their troops in Bangalore, a large town then with a population of 60 to 80 thousand. The settlement grew into the Cantonment of Bangalore. There was a Drummers Chapel or Fort Church, but the need for a place of worship was felt as the Cantonment grew in the early 19th century. St. Mark’s Church was built in 1808 AD and further enlarged in 1901 AD. At this time, the nave height was increased and the choir stalls and sanctuary were added.
The proposed St. Mark’s Resource Centre at the campus of St. Mark’s Church is in the heart of the city. The Church, which completes 200 years, desired to have a resource centre for the campus for miscellaneous activities like Bible classes, training programs, youth programs, computer training, and pastorate committee meeting hall, an auditorium for 200 seating, pastors’ office and ancillary facilities.
We proposed developing the resource centre by addition and enveloping about the shell of the old parish hall (about 80 years old) which could have emotional significance for the senior members of the congregation. The most important part of the old parish hall and its oldest fragments are therefore retained and the new structure floats above the old - in a new spatial relationship and experience.
As the old parish hall did not bear any specific spatial relationship to the church, in the new scheme we proposed the insertion of a literal visual tube of space that skews sufficiently to capture views of the old church. The orientation of the ‘tube’ makes a direct, yet oblique view of the church through as a constant reminder of the focal relevance of God and his symbolic presence associated with the church building.
The new inserts and additions are differentiated in their language and articulation from the old, and the physical separation of the two reinforces this.
The existing trees have been retained as far as possible and a new deck space is created of the parish hall + resource center at the ground level as well as a point of vantage view from the balcony of the auditorium. These form new congregation spaces mediating the inside and the outside and its view of the central position of the church in the campus.
Light slits play an immense role in unfolding the experience of the structure whether it is the screen of the entrance space to the auditorium or the separation of the class rooms from the old structure or between the new additions for the office spaces.
Visible from a primary artery of the road network around the site it makes a gesture that clearly defines the new facility - which responds to the programme by its own language of architectural making as well as differentiates itself from the valued past fragments ( wherein the colour, texture and details are retained). There is desire to continue the writing of the narrative of historical continuity of the institution from the past to the present as an architectural design position in the context of the church and its ancillary facilities.