Christ Methodist Church won the Design Award in the institutional projects category at the Singapore Institute of Architects Awards. It was also shortlisted as one of five projects in the religion category at the World Architecture Festival.
When architect Ko Shiou Hee presented his design proposal for a new building to members of the Christ Methodist Church, he received a standing ovation from the 20-strong crowd.
The director at K2LD Architects was shocked. “That has never happened to me before and the church members told me that their pastor usually does not react to any situation,” says the 50-year-old, who was designing a church for the first time.
Needless to say, his firm got the project.
The focus of his design was to change the way members, and even passers-by, saw the 84-year-old church.
The former building was a single- storey space fronted by a carpark. A kindergarten was also crammed at the back, where a three-storey extension stood.
Even Mr Ko, who used to live for more than a decade at St Patrick’s Garden, a condominium across the street, never noticed there was a church along East Coast Road. “The church needed a new presence, for more people to notice that it was there.”
The traditional sanctuary was transformed into a theatre-like space that can hold 1,000 people. The other floors house a multi-purpose hall, baptism pool, band practice room, dance studio and classrooms.
There is also a basement carpark and greenery on both sides of the church, which many of the fellowship rooms face.
The highlight feature is the wave-like facade. Mr Ko says he was influenced by the church’s proximity to the sea. Clad in aluminium strips, little crosses are cut into the facade and they light up and glow against a muted backdrop in the night.
And to pay homage to the church’s heritage, Peranakan tiles decorate parts of the floor in the building.
The $20-million project took almost four years to complete. The church wanted a larger building, but was initially restricted by government regulations due to plot ratio control. This regulation was changed midway through construction and the building was completed with four storeys and an attic.
The new building is a stark contrast to old, traditional churches, something Mr Ko was conscious of when he came up with the design.
“I think of those historic churches in Europe. They are pretty, but no one is inside worshipping,” he says.
“That’s not what a church is meant to be. People should want to use it.”
The concept of this project was not thought of simply for its form and function, but the hope and connectivity it will bring to the people of this church.
During the day, the church rests in the backdrop of the magnolia white sky, a building designed to be welcoming and at one with its surroundings, offering visitors asylum and peace.
As the sun retreats and darkness creeps, the church transforms into illumination. The front, reminiscent of little crosses dancing across the meniscus facade of the church,while the back, a contrast of dynamic light and linear installations, display a spectacular effect, a giant cross bathed in falling stars. A reminder of the primordial beauty and power of God, but most importantly, that he will guide you especially in the darkest of times.