The church has an outer skin made of vertical slats and 14 separate doors that lead worshippers to the central circular core.
15 November, 2023
Sitting majestically in the lush surrounding landscape, Santuario de La Salle makes a bold statement through its design. Conceived and realised by CAZA, with Principal Carlos Arnaiz as lead on the project, this church and social hub situated within a religious campus in Biñan City, Laguna, Philippines is most definitely not your usual place of worship. Having said this, Santuario de La Salle is an extraordinary architectural homage that redefines the form of a church and its functionality for a religious community.
Completed this year, Santuario de La Salle is immense with a footprint of some 13,530 square metres. It is composed of a series of circular-shaped volumes that combine to provide an interior spatial experience for the visitor.
From the outside, the structure is smooth with an outer skin made of vertical slats that help break the massive volume and elevation of the building. Raw and unfinished materials have been used on the exterior and represent the connection to the surrounding natural habitat. Inside, the materiality changes to softwoods and brass for a more textured, warm aesthetic.
The outer skin also creates a semi-outdoor space that helps transition worshippers from the busy university environment to the quiet of the sacred areas. Volumes of space in circular rooms that connect vary, depending on the degree of formality required and their function.
The placement and size of columns has been included to represent the many people that populate the church. The chapel has been designed to allow individuals to become a part of the group as the spatial journey gives physical form to the gathering of the community.
Arnaiz and his team of Laura del Pino, Kate Sarmiento, Tzu-Yin Wang, Alex Tseng have also included 14 separate doors that lead worshippers to the central circular core that features a double-height void. In this area, there is a tilted ceiling with an arc, similar to the orbit of planets and the moon, which helps reinforce the connection between people, nature and the sanctity of the space and place.
Lighting is almost star-like, as pendants hang seemingly weightlessly from the ceiling above and a long clerestory window reflects light and becomes a guiding star for those within the church walls.
While this building has a beautiful exterior fluidity in its linear appearance, it is the generosity of the spatial design inside that re-creates the lineal idea of reaching for the heavens. As the structure itself stands tall, there is a human dimension within, as worshippers establish community and connection through the experiential.
CAZA is a design studio and think-tank based in Brooklyn, US with offices in Manila, Philippines, Bogotá, Colombia and Lima, Peru. The practice explores how architecture can shape meaningful experiences, enhance its context, connect people to place and heritage and bring about a more sustainable future.
CAZA has a basis of analytical process that spans disciplines, where each project is considered on its own terms but always with deference to geography, culture, traditions, the built environment and community needs. As a practice of 12, CAZA achieves great outcomes through clever thinking and collaboration that results in extraordinary design.
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