Architecture Monday

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The St Nicholas Orthodox Church not only doesn’t look very orthodox, it began its life as a very generic three-bay welding workshop. With that limited starting point, and with a seriously strapped budget, Marlon Blackwell and his office went to work to create a transcendent place of worship. The result beautifully illustrates Mies’ statement of “God is in the details.”

Using mostly everyday materials, simply used well and with excellent detailing, with a great dose of creativity and appreciation for form, space, light, and order, this small church belies its humble origins. From the entry, through the narthex with its counter for candles, to the sanctuary, the deliberate introduction of shafts of light and colour helps define the spaces and evoke the sanctity of the space.

With simple moves that didn’t break the bank – and some hands-dirty crafting such as the repurposed satellite dish to make the dome in the sanctuary (you’d never know looking at it) – this building manages to stand head and shoulders above two nearby churches built for multiple times the budget.

It’s all about form, space, order, light.

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