Two offset ellipses constitute the main body of the new church architecture in West Jordan, Utah. A place of worship for a Catholic community, the 2136-sq-m church comes to substitute a modest structure built by the parish’s tradespeople in 1965.
American studio Sparano + Mooney had the old church and the neighbourhood’s working class background as a mining community in mind as they created the circular plan. ‘The design of the new church re-uses fundamental elements of the old structure, and incorporates new steel, copper and hand-crafted wood components to reference the parish’s mining and construction history,’ the architects explain.
The offset ellipses reference the uninhabitable poche’ walls typical of the historical sacred architecture. The depth of these spaces which now serve liturgical functions is betrayed by a series of coloured apertures of different sizes that extend through the thickened wall.
According to the architects, besides taking the community back to the mining history of the early parish, the design ‘details ordinary materials to become extraordinary.’ For instance the board-concrete walls of the main sanctuary were constructed in the traditional method and flat seam roofing techniques were used to clad the Day Chapel and the altar’s skylight structure with copper panels, thus expressing ‘the transformation of the raw material by the worker’.
The sanctuary and Day Chapel, a circular courtyard, as well as gathering, liturgical, support and vesting spaces all feature in the programme of the St Joseph the Worker Church.