Vivian Ho In Kuong

MArch I

New New England Church

Advised by Mark Lee

What is the significance of religious architecture today, if there is any? The program of the church in America has, over the past few centuries, undergone significant typological, social, and cultural transformations: from the first wooden New England meeting house of the 1600s to the Romanesque revival of the 19th century, to today being absorbed into a type of American big box architecture. This thesis uses the backdrop of Plymouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the development of New England churches and their history and asks the question: What is the role of architecture in religious buildings? 

In 1938, the German architect Rudolf Schwarz stated that the postwar task of the time was “to build churches out of that reality which we experience and verify every day.”1 Rather than reminiscing on the nostalgic past of the church as an institution, this thesis reconsiders the church as it is currently and how architecture can facilitate its activities. The struggle between big box and cathedral, banal and numinous, institutional and communal, symbol and anti-symbol, duck and shed is manifested through a series of wall constructions that express these dilemmas as a struggle between the free section and the free plan. 

Given the events of a typical Sunday service, the proposal creates a novel way of looking at the sequential progression of the service in addition to the physical construction of a new New England church. 

1 Rudolf Schwarz, The Church Incarnate: The Sacred Function of Christian Architecture (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1958). 

Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. Eight black and white pencil drawings of rectangles filled with different geometric shapes.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
The New New England Church critiques the big box typology which has subsumed the typology of the church and reinterprets vernacular construction techniques, materials, and design strategies which rethink the role of symbolism, sanctity, and profanity in religious buildings today.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
View of approach from main street.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
Standing from the worship space, you can view directly through the sermon area into the communion table. The structural rhythm and light quality changes in the different volume as seen in this view.
Because of the rigid wall, the flexibility of the floor create the potential for free section in the project. Floor are free in relation to their height and width. Sometimes acting as bridge, and sometimes acting as a tube containing space.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I.
This shows how the church is used on a typical Sunday service.
The top part of the plan is processional, and the bottom part is simultaneous