Marlon Blackwell Architect transform old shop into contemporary church in Springdale
Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church results from the transformation of an existing metal shop building into a sanctuary and fellowship hall. Repurposed in anticipation of a larger adjacent sanctuary, the simple original structure is extended by 10 feet along its west elevation to include a narthex and a tower. The building is then enveloped by a new skin of box-ribbed metal panels and coloured glass openings: the original gabled form is obscured and refined. Although a small structure, its bold form, surface and symbols make it recognizable both day and night from the nearby interstate.
The interior vertical surfaces of the church are bathed in light and colour accents with limited articulation. The horizontal surfaces are expressive, revealing priorities and hierarchies. In the fellowship hall, the original concrete slab and the roof structure of the metal shop building are exposed, revealing the origins of the building. As one passes through the candle-lit narthex, the ceiling gradually descends above a floor of oak, compressing the visitor before passing under the sky-lit tower that marks the entry into the sanctuary oriented to the east.
The oak floor continues into the worship space while a dome hovers above the parishioners. Large swinging doors allow the 100 seat sanctuary to expand into the fellowship hall in times of overflow, which accommodates additional visitors for holiday services. At the east end, the ceiling is carved away to allow for a 30 foot wide transom of translucent glass that bathes the sanctuary in soft light for morning services. The iconostasis, the screen wall between the sanctuary and the altar area, is the one vertical surface that is articulated in great detail. It features hand-painted and gilded icons representative of the separation of heaven and earth.