CRETEIL– Originally designed by architect Charles Gustav Stoskopf in the 1970s, the Cathedral of Créteil is a symbol of faith in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris, France. Commissioned to expand the cathedral’s capacity and enhance its visibility towards the city, Architecture-Studio has redeveloped the building, giving it a symbolic and pastoral point of view. The expansion makes a revitalised statement, exhibiting a medley between two architectural styles while establishing consistency.

With a new exterior shell and an independent steeple, the cathedral marks its place, gracefully covering the original footprint. Designed extensively from wood-clad hulls, the 20-m-high cathedral dome takes its form from the two hulls meeting directly above the altar. The concept is inspired by the gesture of two hands joined in prayer. The choice of material on the interior and exterior is an attribute which pays homage to ancient cathedrals. The parallel wooden arches represent a sense of unity and simplicity, bringing warmth to the building’s curves. Architecturally, the expansion is defined by a liturgical axis with geometric complexity, which results in a static and dynamic space. The use of stained glass placed at the junction of the two hulls will result in coloured rays of light shining on the congregation and allows for a path of light to cascade straight down onto the altar. The positioning allows for sunlight to flood in throughout the day, while at night interior lights shine through, illuminating the strip of glass.

The spatial organisation is based around two cylindrical concrete walls that support a horizontal terrace with seating situated 5 m above ground. Below the terrace, there are more benches placed in a broad semi-circle, expanding the space for up to 1000 people. In addition to the extra capacity for worshippers, the cathedral includes a cultural centre, a conference room and a small auditorium. By designing an intimate and symbolic space, Architecture-Studio has created a sense of belonging to the cathedral and realised a replenished place for worship.

Photos and drawings courtesy of Architecture-Studio.