Architect Marek Jan Štěpán – Atelier Štěpán has occupied himself with the idea of this church in Brno-Lesná, Czech Republic intermittently for the past 30 years. However, the intention to build a church first came up in 1968 and was finally fulfilled after 50 years. It is the first church to be dedicated to beatified Marie Restituta who was born approximately 1 mile from its location.
A rectangular plateau is laid out on the plot that defines the sacred district. The church is located in the heart of the housing estate at the mouth of an old scratch ravine. There are three basic masses on it – the church, the tower and the spiritual centre (designed by Zdeněk Bureš).
The church has a circular floor plan. The circle is an age-long symbol of heaven and eternity (in contrast to the square, which refers to earth and transience). The heaven is reflected back in the colourful annular windows that embraces the church just below the roof. It might be said that the circle is floating above Lesná or, on a figurative, transcendental level, that the heaven is floating above Lesná. The circle is also very close to the contemporary perception of liturgy in church that represents the community of the Apostles and Jesus around the table during the Last Supper.
The tabernacle is located in a tall apse illuminated from above that is situated on the left side of the church. The church wall is torn by a triangular opening at this point, which serves as a reference to the tear in the Jerusalem temple curtain.
The interior of the church forms an inner universe. It is an organ for communication with God. It is simple, composed, and collected. The visitor should feel safe, balanced, and undisturbed by the outside world, almost like in the mother’s womb. The soft and sleek lines of the structure form a disembodied inner space shaped by the light coming from the annular windows above. Its purpose is to give indirect, soft daylight that does not cast hard shadows.
The symbol of the covenant between God and His people – the rainbow – is depicted on this 80-meter-long window. A circular rainbow is a phenomenon that can actually be observed from high altitudes, often from planes. The light is turned into an element that hints on something beyond the limits of material reality, something barely perceivable with our senses.
The tower stands further from the church. Its triangular floor plan ensures that it looks different from the inside of the church than it looks from the outside. From the outside it serves as a fixed point, a static kubus that refers to the westworks of the old churches and that anchors the whole compound on a small promontory. The side facing the church is open with a square lantern and there is a yellow part with a glockenspiel and a red part with a lookout on the Brno city centre.
Design and info © Atelier Štěpán
Images © BoysPlayNice Photography & Concept