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Sofia Singler and Luka Pajovic win honourable mention in chapel design competition

last modified Sep 18, 2017 11:50 AM
Sofia Singler (MA Cantab) and Luka Pajovic (BA Hons. Cantab) have won an honourable mention in an international architectural competition for a new chapel in Rome. Singler graduated from the Architecture Tripos in 2013 and is currently a PhD candidate at the Department, and Pajovic graduated from the Tripos in June 2017. The pair began collaborating at the Department in the spring of 2017.
The competition, organised by ArchMedium, a European architectural competition organisation, called for a contemporary non-denominational chapel in central Rome. The competition brief asked participants to create "a place of encounter, a space for dialogue and hope for peace in a complex world” defined by political and economic crises, new technologies and unprecedented urbanisation. The brief outlined: "In a delicate European context, we propose to rethink spaces of worship as a place of introversion in the city.”
The site chosen for the building was the Piazza della Moreneta along the Via Giulia, one of the most historically significant streets in Rome. Commissioned by Pope Giulio II from Donato Bramante, the street was created as a manifestation of the Renaissance city’s order and glory. Commerce, banking and religious activity framed life along the street for centuries. The church of San Filippo Neri (Rutilio Brandi, 1603) sits directly on the competition site. The demolitions carried out during Mussolini’s era left a heavy mark on the area: the church was abandoned for decades, and the site underwent significant urban deterioration at broad scale. The competition called for a new chapel that would engage in dialogue both with San Filippo Neri and a new public garden currently being executed directly across the street from the piazza by Swiss firm Diener & Diener.
Singler and Pajovic’s proposal ‘Templum Sapientiae’ walls off the city-block marked by Nolli’s famed plan of Rome, acknowledging the site’s history as well as the urban gesture of Diener & Diener’s walled garden. A uniform grid module defines the structural rationale of the project both in plan and in section, the resultant volume reading as a rational concrete temple. The key space of the building is the chapel space proper. Its interior is defined by a timber shelving system: the modest benches designed for the chapel can be set in the deep reveals of the timber lined bays, becoming shelves for votive objects and literature when not in use on the floor. The bays suggest modules for the subdivision of the space into areas of simultaneous discussion, debate and prayer for different groups.
One of the most unique aspects of Singler and Pajovic’s project is the flower-crypt, described as a “monument to the natural resources and beauty shared by all of humanity.” Constructed out of resin-panels filled with fossilised, preserved flora, the crypt immortalises the cycles of birth and death that unite humans regardless of tradition. Singler and Pajovic added the crypt to the competition brief’s set floor area programme at their own volition.
Singler and Pajovic envision continuing their collaboration in the future.
All image credits: Sofia Singler and Luka Pajovic








Crypt perspective


final proposed plan


section 400