A Church Within A Fortress
All church building projects are built with the hope of interpreting the christian doctrine world perspective (weltanschauung in German) through cathedral architecture, with the Tamsui Church’s emphasis on eternity, universality and community.
Because of the difficulty to acquire land rights and the crowdedness of metropolitan spaces in Taiwan, religious architecture in this country confront the distance between man and heaven caused by vertical massing of the buildings. European churches create sanctity through structure, elevated space and mysterious lighting between the ground level and roof. The Tamsui Church is no exception. It has to confront the challenges of fulfilling the building code on building lot coverage and floor area by vertically stacking both the day-to-day and sacred spaces of the church. To build a holy and sanctified place expressing love and compassion without the oppressive sense of authority is the most critical focus on designing the Tamsui Church.
The principle of designing cathedral architecture is usually purely on the basis of cruciform shape as the main element; the design concept of the Tamsui Church is also based on the cross, but in a broader sense. It interweaves people’s living between church festivals and their daily life while bringing in nature into the urban life. The site is located on the northern tip of Taiwan, known as the Danhai New Town. It is a windy and rainy city facing the sea. Although the buildings face beautiful scenery, the city is in a harsh environment. The customized thick double layered wall system was employed to regulate the harsh climate as well as intertwining lives in and out of the church space.
The Church in Taiwan plays a different role in society than in Europe. Pastor Juang of the Tamsui Church believes that the church can be embraced by everyone. His work is akin to social welfare. By acknowledging that everyone is a sinner and nobody is perfect, the church remedies the ills of our society. Thus a social welfare center occupies more than half of the facilities used by the Tamsui Church. Emphasis is given to communication and security. The architect must reflect on this social responsibility, bearing the cross to serve this land. (written by Emi Tsui)