Proposal for a building for worship or a cultural establishment

Concept and Development: Ivan Valtchev
Architectural Rendering and Editing: Ryan Bostic

Design Concept

Two wings of the black mussel shell shelter a simple life form. It is also comparable to an egg where an embryo is protected by a harder shell. The visual similarities is also perceivable –the closed wings of the shell strongly resemble the ovalesque form of the egg.  
In geometry an image of a hyperbole and opposing parabola crossing arms  on the same plane and on the same ordinate appears as a cross section of the egg.  Their rotation around own vertical ax in descriptive geometry generates the three dimension  ovalesque of the egg. Such a simple and plain mathematical concept is comparable to the black mussel sea shell.

The egg/mussel shape is very similar to the water drop, modeled by gravity and aerodynamic forces.  In this a formal resemblance: water drop – egg –sea shell emerges, repeats a simple shape and relates also to the concept of water begetting forms of life in a micro – macrocosm. In our time the chapel form could be also associated with a space ship. The spiritual symbolism of the sea shells goes back in the history, for example in the Greek mythology the goddess of love Aphrodite is born in a sea shell. 

In Christianity, after the acceptance of icon imagery at the Nicene Covenant in 787 AD, as an example, a similar ornamental shell appears as a Mandorla on the iconic images of Christ – surrounding him at the moment of Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and as Christ’s halo. The majesty of the Son of God emanates around him in painting or stone carvings similar to a shell or an almond modeled radiation. Similar rendering also glorifies Mary Mother of God. In this manner Christ and the Madonna in exalted images are depicted beyond the earthly plane. Such reflections and observations come to support an inspired concept of constructing a chapel or a public building as a sea shell with open wings for a place of worship or cultural activities. 

The larger opening of the wings will create the chapel’s front while the smaller will house a tabernacle and the organ pipes. Both openings will be covered by large glass panels. At the front the wings will slide open to create a seamless entry. This oversized entrance will strongly contrast the typical smaller doorways of the traditional church buildings The front opening will serve as an entrance and will have moving, opening and closing panels. The bright metal pipes of the organ will accentuate a cross lit by the back opening of the shell. Visible from outside, the shiny organ will relate visually to the chapel’s mirror like reflective outer surface. Rows of seating will encircle around the altar. The chapel’s constructive elements will be simple and limited to four:  the wings creating a roof and a cover, the seat rows, the altar, the organ. Such simplicity will make the chapel design pure and monumental. The top may invoke a Gothic vault ceiling, the inner walls may have murals and the back opening may have stained glass. The exterior walls with be covered with highly reflective material. This finish will create the effect of the top of the structure disappearing in the haze of a direct sun light. In this manner the chapel will be highly visible in a cluster of buildings in urban setting, or in an open environment. The inside walls may be coated with a mother of pearl lining, creating a warm feeling of a perceptible spiritual and sheltered world. This will also enhance feelings of being protected in a blessed, sacred space. The outside view and the indoor atmosphere should generate an immediate transcendental experience and awakening, stimulating impact. Visitors will see and enter a vessel of life and faith, sharing in emotions of inspiration and protection. The reflective material of the outer surface will give the shell a high visibility in an open or urban setting. 
A basement in subterranean level will provided power and services necessary for maintaining a building.

Building Dimensions:

Height: 120’-0” / 36.5m
Wing Span: 115’-0” / 35m
Ground Floor Height: 23’-0” / 7m
Second Floor Height: 18’-0” / 5.5m
Ground Floor Area: 11,000 sf / 1,022sm

Building Materials:

Outer Shell: Highly Reflective (Mirror) Material
Interior Walls: Mother of Pearl 

Inspiration and Renderings

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