Church of Maria Madre dei Giovani, Sermig

My idea for the Church consists of a few simple, inexpensive elements: geometric shapes and light.
I envision a square-shaped space containing a triangular design, made up of the three domes on the ceiling, and a pattern of concentric circles, realised by the presbytery steps and the pews. The square, the triangle and the circle come together to create a harmonious articulation of pure and absolute forms.
Light descends via three skylights as a wholly natural element which, focused in three points, marks the three angles of the triangle, the vertex of which falls on the altar: the natural sunbeam thus becomes a symbol of Heaven’s Light.
The synthesis of these two elements (geometry and light) is represented by the large, luminous cross, focal point of the sacred space. With its abstract design, neatly carved into the far wall, it reaches from the floor to the ceiling, shining pure beams of light from its hidden LEDs, in such a way as to suggest that the cross is made of light itself. I thought it important to redesign the cross in a contemporary style, with a visual and symbolic language capable of communicating with youthful hearts, and to those who have yet to receive the gift of faith.
These elements are joined by another idea: the gradual ascension from the earth to the heavens. The floor is made of black slate, representing the dark soil of the earth, which gradually shifts and blends into the grey of the walls and finally the white ceiling, speckled with small LEDs, creating an array of dotted lights, like a starry sky. This simple idea affords the space an air of transcendence and sacredness.
The aim of the project is to create a space without frills or decorations, a clean and simple design which reaches heights of beauty and mysticism through a dynamic of geometric shapes and light.
The entrance to the Church is located in a corner: for this area I thought of adopting a design featuring slanting walls, thus creating a perspective funnel which would physically and psychologically launch the congregation into the church, focalising their gaze on the cross of light.
The icon of the Madonna of the Three Hands would then receive its own sacred space in a square-shaped chapel, opposite the altar. An empty space, so as to direct all attention completely to the icon, framed within a vertical cut into the plaster wall. The Church’s plan is completed on the right side of the hall by a corner honouring Cecilia Gilardi, to whom the Church is dedicated, along with a ceremonial plaque, celebrating the blessing given by Pope Benedict XVI, upon the laying of the first stone.

credit

Project: Benedetto Camerana
Consultants: AI engineering (structures and systems), Ezio Sar (lighting engineering)
Functions: Church and space for dialogue
Customer: SER.MI.G
Procedure: project donation
Chronology: Preliminary (2008), municipal (2009), executive (2010), construction (2011-2012)
Location: Turin, ex arsenal, Piazza Borgo Dora
Collaborators: Bruno Causarano, Rosanna Bevilacqua, Eugenia Comparetto, Hermann Kohllöffel, Andrea Tonin
Dimensional area: 1.045 sq.m.
Building cost: € 1,100.00.00

Books

  • A.A.V.V., “Torino contemporanea. Guida alle architetture”, Ed. Urban Center Metropolitano, Torino 2011, pp.44-45

Italian newspapers and magazines

  • G. Longo, “Prima Pietra: Nuova chiesa del Sermig per ricordare Cecilia”, in La Stampa, 03maggio 2010, pp. 54, 57
  • P. G., “Benedetta la prima pietra nella chiesa del Sermig”, in La Repubblica, 03 maggio 2010, pag. V
  • M. Martinengo, “Dal Sermig al Gobetti, il sabato di Napolitano”, in La Stampa, 19 marzo 2011, pag 59
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