San Paolo Church
"The suspension of a volume within another. See the sky through the concrete, outside, inside, outside".
This project won the national competition organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference to design new parish centres: “to provide an innovative and decisive landmark in accordance with the latest international research and symbolising the rebirth of the city after the earthquake”.
The parish complex is made up of two main elements that are identified by the functions of the religious centre. The first element, the Church, is a monolith of pure geometry which accommodates the suspension of a volume within another, while drawing attention to the sense of verticality. The dimensions of the major external volume, 30 x 22,5 meters and 25 meters high, correspond to the dimensions of the room.
The second element, an extended and short parallelepiped, houses the Vestry, the premises of the Pastoral Ministry and the Rectory.
A third translucent body, the Ferial Chapel, connects and separates the two main elements.
Inside the monolith, a perimetral cut offering a glance of the sky lights up the interstitial space between the two volumes contained one within the other.
Structural elements in the shape of a pyramidal frustum connect the external volume to the suspended one and create openings having the same geometrical shape that are carved on the northern and southern sides of both volumes. From these openings - with an irregular cut – beams of light enter directly inside the room The interior was intended to emphasize the centrality of the Altar, whereas the Baptismal Font and the Ambon are located asymmetrically to the former. The dominant idea is to underline the active role of the celebrating Assembly.
The design of the interior and the lighting bodies evokes the idea of essentiality and purity. The sober shape of the oak pews inspires meditation. The religious ornaments made of stone, such as the Altar, the Ambon and the Baptismal Font, are emphasized by the beams of light crossing the monolith both vertically and obliquely. The effect created during the day by the natural light is recreated at night by hanging lights whose angular shape retraces the profile of the openings carved on both volumes.
The Master Enzo Cucchi has created the monument “Stele-Croce” for the area outside the Church, a 13,50 meter high sculpture, made of concrete and Carrara white marble, that also becomes an architectural element.
The Master Mimmo Paladino has created the 14 iron sculptures representing the Stations of the Cross.