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The church sits on a flat, trianular site in Tor Tre Teste (named for a bas relief of three heads carved in a medieval guard tower dating back to the 4th Century) about six miles east of central Rome. It is adjacent to a lower/middle-income housing complex built in the 1970s on the boundary of a public park.
The 108,414 square-foot complex contains both a church and a Community Center, connected by a four-story atrium. The project features concrete, stucco, travertine, and glass. Three dramatic concrete shells arch in graduated heights from 56 to 88 feet that bring to mind gliding white sails. Glass ceilings and skylights in the church span the entire length of the building filling the space with natural light. At night, light emanates from within creating an ethereal presence and animating the landscape. The main nave seats 240, and a day chapel seats 24. The plan relate to the triangular site. The sacred realm to the south, where the nave is located, is separated from the secular precinct to the north; pedestrian approaches are from both the housing complex to the east and the parking lot to the west.
The proportions of the complex are based on a series of displaced squares and four circles. Three circles of equal radius generate the profiles of the three shells that, together with the spine-wall, make up the body of the church nave – and discretely imply the Holy Trinity.
The Two Courts
The western side of the church site is laid out as two courts separated by a paved causeway running east/west between the community center to the north and the church to the south. The northern most court adjacent to the center has a recreational garden. The second court features a reflecting pool and is intended as a meditation space.
The Community Center
The four-level community center functions as a key gathering place for social, educational, and recreational activities. A paved pedestrian approach or sagrato (churchyard) on the east, near the center of the adjacent Tor Tre Teste housing project, encourages parishioners to gather in the piazza as was done in the sagrati of medieval Italy.
Contributed by ArchiTeam
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