Saemoonan Church as a public space for loving neighbors
Saemoonan Church, the first Korean Protestant church, celebrated its 132nd anniversary and built a new church in Gwanghwamun Sinmunno. It is in the shape of a mother’s arms as if her arms were extended toward the sky. At the time of the design competition in 2010, the Korean Christian community made functionalism a top priority for church buildings, and many large churches also showed their presence on a large scale. However, the Saemoonan Church is based on four distinct church building themes: Historicity as the mother church of the Korean Protestant Church, the symbolism of the door opened to heaven spatiality to express Christ as light and a water space conveying the meaning of baptism and harmony. So, We revised the theme with God’s love and the neighbors’ love and put them into the design. God’s love was mainly described with the use and symbolism of space, and the aspect of neighbors’ love was expressed publicly through the facade and layout effects of the building that are revealed downtown.
By not following the construction of a spire and Gothic building, which has dominated the archetype of Christian churches for two thousand years, it is considered a major contribution to modern church Architecture. Thus, the conventional spire in the Saemoonan Church was replaced by the soft curved efect open to the sky, and the excessive decorations were converted into simple and abstract expressions. rather than focusing on revealing the authority of the church. the soft curve on the facade metaphorically expresses God’s love and mercy. In addition, rather than creating a solemn atmosphere in the form of a traditional long corridor, a fan-shaped chapel plane suggests a new era of worship that encourages the dynamic participation of believers.
The public architectural intentions of neighboring love are well manifested throughout the Saemoonan Church architecture, and they are architectural tasks to be contemplated by the churches of the 21st century. In other words, rather than mass producing church architecture in a symbolic and visualized one-dimensional form as a means of enlightenment for missions, a sense of public and spatial programs that support the lives of and rest for the people must exist within the church. The facade with a concave surface, a church building typology you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and the courtyard of Saemoonan-ro, built by the arched gate, are intended to be a practical resting place for citizens by opening the church to the neighbors rather than seeking a holy place of worship with monastic closure. In addition, the section that continuously communicates through the lobby to the Sejong center for the Performing Arts also shows the openness of the church. Moreover, a small chapel that reflects part of the history of the church through the use of the old bricks of the church will also be used as an open cultural space. In the office building forest in Seoul, the Saemoonan Church gives ample rest to the bustling city through free space by opening and emptying, rather than reacting to the commercial philosophy of scale like the surrounding largest buildings with maximum volume. This is why modern churches publicly express their neighbors’ love to the city.
The transparent glass box, intended to disappear into the sky beyond the curved wall, not only achieves a morphological harmony with the soft curved wall, but also protects future generations from the busy streetsm and creates a bright education builing with a roof garden. They are architectural strategies. In addition, the top level of the education building and the high altitude of the cross tower can be a memorial space open to all citizens, as many churches around the world open the dome on the top loor to their neighbors.