Lux Aeterna Holy Cross Chapel (2015) by Open Platform for Architecture

Design Team: Laertis-Antonios Ando Vassiliou, Pantelis Kampouropoulos, Michalis Takopoulos
Collaborators: Xanthippi Alexi Vassiliou, Terpsichori Latsi (LOOM Design), Christopher Malheiros (Cmalheiros.com)

Purity of belief is celebrated in this minimalistic design devoid of earthly distractive elements. The chapel is the third building of the Terra Mater  trilogy of underground buildings. Proposed for the island of Serifos, it possesses a single cliff façade  that faces the Aegean sea, positioning the human vis a vis with the beauty and magnanimity of creation.

The proposed chapel would be constructed with simple materials: wood, glass, and, of course, concrete. These textures match the surrounding arid landscape, giving the project the appearance that it is of the earth.

The cross shape continues into the building, organizing the space into three sections – a common division of church architecture. Yet instead of splitting the space horizontally, the function has been separated vertically.

To this date, the cross has only been incorporated in a horizontal orientation in the design of cross-shaped floor-plan churches (Cross-in Byzantine rhythm). Apart from this historical use, cross-shaped openings are also used as  illuminating features on the walls of several contemporary chapels.

The building benefits from the the thermal insulation created by the surrounding earth, allowing the interior temperature to remain at a comfortable temperature passively. As in many spiritual buildings, light is given a heightened importance.

Eastern light penetrates the chapel through the front glazed façade and the tinted “vitreaux” glass that runs along the spine of the building, culminating to the western façade with the rotating wooden door. The dynamic light patterns embrace the bare concrete with colorful refractions, a reverent homage to Le Corbusier’s “Ronchamp” church and Tadao Ando’s “Church of Light.” After passing  the wide, cross-engraved rotating door (bearing it’s the axis in the middle) you encounter a breathtaking view of the sea, while you are spiritually transported by the solemn and transcendental atmosphere.

At night, the chapel is lit, becoming the brightest object on the horizon where it can serve as a “lighthouse” for seafarers.