architecture : urban : visual culture

Halo for Normafa

Interesting vision made for the competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow. 


The most obvious place for the mass to take place is the small clearing in front of the chapel. Presently these ceremonies are all held here. The environment is not perfect for the function, the terrain is tilting uncomfortably. Trees and other landscape elements do not clearly embrace the area, everything is a little uncertain. This plan tries to find stable points, and a frame to show how a function like this could tame its surrounding by fitting in.

The first and most important architectural space-forming element of the sacred space that has not yet been formed is the small chapel body itself. Symbolically, this building is the house of God. In Euclidean space, one point
does not yet form a space, two points only form a line, three points are needed to define a plane. Let us find companions for our object in the forms of an altar and the other as a bell tower, so a plane could be defined.

1. Chapel – Father
2. Altar – Son
3. Belfry – Holy Spirit

Due to the traditional orientation of the altar, it is placed on the east side of the small clearing in front of the chapel, the bell tower on the west side. 

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


This classic formation at this location is fortunate, with the main approach to the site being from the west. The belfry functions as a prominent pylon and gateway and can be well seen from a distance. The altar rests in the eastern corner of the clearing, the forest behind it stands as some sort of natural wall.
There is not yet an exact outline of the sacred place, but it is felt that it may be somewhere around the triangle stretched by the three bodies and their close surrounding. There must be a boundary, if only virtually, where Anna-rét is a playground, a toboggan run, and beyond which a sacred space. I used an
ancient technique to draw this outline. I stuck a stake behind each of the three bodies and tied it with a loose rope, then I pulled the ropes taut. 


Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


The unbroken continuity of the guitar pick-shaped arc shows well the unity of the three bodies, the unity of the trinity, but the alternation of the radii of the arches would suggest the three centers of gravity without the presence of the bodies as well. The paths run tangentially into the arc.

Within the contour I drew three rings, three different zones.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


The outer ring represents the thick walls of our virtual church, the middle one the side aisles, the inner ring the nave. Let us raise a horizontal wall along the outer ring to the height of the chapel sill. Due to the slope of the terrain, this wall is of variable height, it begins to rise from the foot of the chapel and reaches its highest point behind the altar.

This wall body can suddenly fulfill several functions. On one hand it gives a
tangible contour to our outdoor church and on the other hand it protects the
altar space. This segment of the contour is an arc approximating a parabola.
There are several gestures. Looking outward, it is an opening gesture that shows that its receptive capacity is infinite. This form is capable of bridging the gap in the number of people at the mass, whether ten or a thousand people. Of course, the only focus of this parabolic arc is the altar. The arc is also similar to reflectors, with the parabolic mirror reflecting the focal point in parallel lines, naturally amplifying the preacher's voice.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


In addition to the many benefits of the wall arch, it also has a disadvantage. The forest behind the altar is completely obscured, the natural connection becomes one-way, and from the east, our small open-air church shows a closed temple body. The recently built Illak Forest Chapel also shows that nature is less obscured by the more airy, linear features. The wall body becomes a beam in an arch, so that it continues to carry its benefits, but it becomes airier, with nature slipping through underneath and the path coming from the south. By duplicating the beams, a bridge is formed like a white halo behind the altar. In this form, this object can perform several functions. It can be a gallery, or, on larger occasions can give place to the children's choir above the altar. Between masses, it can function as a mini-Calvary route, with stations in the form of fine art on the walls of the arch.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás

This artwork that has undergone multiple metamorphoses - referred to as the "halo bridge" - has been endowed with many meanings and functions, but it still makes a determined and vigorous gesture towards both religion and nature.

In addition to the dominant appearance of the halo bridge, all other architectural and landscape gestures are pushed into the background, so they gently adapt to the natural conditions while fulfilling their function. There is no need to do much ground work, the terrain, luckily descends to the altar, forming into a classic auditorium. The support walls that follow the stairs are lined as the contour lines.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás

Dividing the meter line to eight part the contours gives you a comfortable 12.5cm high staircase. Thin (15cm wide) support walls run in the middle " side aisle" ring, while thickened support walls run in the inner "nave" zone. The widening discreetly indicates that we have already entered the innermost, intimate zone and are wide enough for seating. There is no need for special design for the benches, the new solid wood benches that are around Normafa are perfectly suited for the masses in their appearance, fitting visually into the image of Normafa.

The altar: as it can be read in the introduction, in this concept the three pillars of the three places of worship, like the Trinity, want to show a strong bond. The memorial stones and bricks collected over the years could not only create a beautiful and strong altar body in physical form, but they would also carry the story spiritually. It would be a good example of the bond and cooperation of the people. The belfry, following the example of the altar, also built of memorial stones with the donation bell and a lit glass cube on top.



Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


The halo bridge's cantilever can be implemented with reinforced concrete
structure. The underground reinforced concrete strip foundation, balances the
double wall arch, above ground level only supported at the two end points. Its
surface is of visible concrete quality, it is colored in its material with the most natural white color, so the paint does not clog the concrete's surface texture, with its natural mistakes. The Stations are placed on the parapet walls by
concrete formwork as relief sculptures. It is advisable to coat the surface with a matte impregnator for durability of the surface. The floor of the bridge is coated with transparent non-slip synthetic resin sprayed with quartz sand. A pre-formatted conduit system is provided for the required lighting and sound system.

The altar stands on its own floating foundation. The memorial bricks are bonded to each other with antifreeze adhesive mortar. The final surface requires sanding and impregnation coating.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


The belfry, like the altar, is built on a floating foundation with adhesive mortar up to three meters high. The bell is to be placed in an enclosed wire frame, and fixed to the stone pylon by anchoring. Above the bell, the luminaire is a cube of opal glass glued to a wire frame. Its top plate is covered with a solar panel. As a solar lamp, it is the most economical solution in the middle of a meadow, so it requires no power or automation control.

The stairs with steps of 12,5 cm follow the original slope of the terrain. The elements of the support wall are made of prefabricated concrete. On site, they are to be laid on suitable gravel beds and leveled concrete foundations. At certain points feet lamps are implemented in the concrete, for which electrical conduits must be laid. The space between the support walls must be filled with soil and lawn.

Competition of Sacred Place on Anna Meadow, Architect: Bencsik Tamás


The original state of the chapel building is preserved on archive photos. A more articulate plaster structure can be seen than on the present one, and the eaves also show a smaller, more proportionate picture. In the event of a refurbishment, restoring the original look would also worth some consideration.

The whole presentation of the plan is attached nex to the article.


Bencsik Tamás




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