WT 2020/21 | New Parish Church MeyzieuCopyright: © David Stolz
Design of a New Parish Church for the Catholic Community of Meyzieu
Master's Thesis by David Stolz
The aim of the project and the accompanying theoretical work is to search for answers to the questions of continuity with the heritage, the roots of the architecture in the context, the essence of a Christian Catholic church building and durability, and to apply them in a design.
The church building is located in the city of Meyzieu, a suburb in the east of the French metropolis of Lyon. The population of the city of Meyzieu has increased fifteenfold in the past decades. Due to its border location, the cityscape is mainly characterized by solitary buildings and can be compared to the character of American suburbs. Due to the large population growth, the old parish church in the south of the city, with a capacity of 200 people, has become too small for the celebration of religious services and the construction of a new parish church is necessary to accommodate a celebration congregation of over 500 to about 900 people. The property on which the church is to be built is also located in a context characterized primarily by detached single-family homes and duplexes built in the 1960s and 1970s. On the site itself there is already a parish center, which can be assigned to the contemporary architecture and characterized as a solitary building independent of the site. In the south of the site there is an access road, which should be taken into account in the design.
Different typologies have been laid down for the church building. In order to give the church building a frame, a sacral district was created with a churchyard, into which the volume of the actual church was set, which follows the classical basilica scheme on a cruciform ground plan. A colonnade was built around the actual church space, from which all rooms can be accessed. The faithful enter the church interior by passing through a sequence of threshold spaces, thus preparing them for the worship event and creating a transition between the secular world and the sanctified space. A narthex is entered first from the west, which is fully glazed and adjoins the church interior. North of the narthex is a baptistery, two steps down – symbolic of descending into death to be raised to new life through baptism. The actual church interior is also one step below the level of the entrance and ambulatory. Everything in the church space is oriented toward the crossing, which is the center of the entire design and is located at the focal point of the facility. This highlights the centrality of the worship event, which culminates in the Eucharist. The altar, on the other hand, is not located in the center of the crossing, but is offset to the east, thus giving the worship gathering an eschatological orientation, meaning that it should not find its center in itself, but in Jesus Christ, who is symbolized by the rising sun, among other things. Behind the conch, in which the tabernacle is located, a square courtyard is stretched out, which is enclosed by the workday chapel to the south, confession or conversation rooms to the east and the sacristy to the north. The church complex can also be entered from the east through a narthex-like vestibule. The apse round of the working day chapel, which is in tension with the corner of the sacristy, gives the space a certain dynamism that leads the faithful towards the chapel.
The entire building is made mainly of materials that are historically common in the area: rammed clay for the walls, brick for the pillars and lintels, oak for the liturgical furniture and the choir stalls, copper for the roofing, sandstone or limestone for the flooring and the principals of the altar, ambo, baptismal font and priesthood.
In its appearance, the church picks up on customary local design patterns, such as alternating layers of brick and rammed clay, a plain gable facade, or a roof with only a shallow pitch.