Architecture & Social Agency
Having developed several services out of love and faith, St Canice church plays a diverse role for the parish, the community and people, especially for those individuals in need. However, the complex is made up of fragments of land added to the entity from time to time, lacking planning and organization. The fragmented and disordered spatial arrangement has limited its capacity and inevitably turned parts of the site into a seemingly unwelcome, locked-up place, incapacitating any further public and social interactions or individual experience. This restrains the subjective experience and collective traditions the church could offer.
My proposal starts from resolving the disconnected land fragments by recognizing the essence of existing program and exploring new possibilities for St Canice’s role in the community. The new soup kitchen takes the advantage of the steep slope on the site, forming a platform in front of the existing church. With a two-storey neighbourhood centre emerging from the top, the complex addresses the status of the existing church, reclaiming and reinforcing St Canice’s identity as public and social place. The building adopts a glazed curtain wall to the exposed façade on the ground floor, thin marble for the neighbourhood centre with redwood on the sloped roof to increase visual accessibility while ensure internal privacy at the same time. The translucent façade also turns the block into a light box at night when activities take place. New apartment consists of two types of living: the shared low-rent housing inherits the communal living style of the original apartment and offers maximum opportunity for residents’ customization; and the market-price unit provides financial support for the whole complex’s maintenance.
By creating spaces in various scales on two levels on site, from public and social to intimate meditating space, each place is filled with subjective memories and experiences, and also emerges and overlaps interconnections between different parts.