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‘An architectural representation of God’s open-ended love’


THE CHAPEL of San Pedro Calungsod invites us to wander around its grounds and discover sunken gardens, pockets of blue light and an enigmatic profusion of talismanic walls.

Our design for the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod is meant as an homage to Cebu’s dynamic spirit. The building is grounded in the long history of ecclesiastical architecture wherein light and structure work together to inspire. And yet, the design is truly contemporary. It is both futuristic and contextual.

The walls of the building are oriented to establish visual links to the surrounding landscape: hills to the west, the sea to the east and a new urban complex rising in the middle. The church stands as a sanctuary of stone, sand and glass from where we can meditate on the changes happening in the world and find strength in our encounter of the inexplicable mysteries of God.

Sacred space

WALLS are aligned along a grid that follows the spacing of the pews.

We wanted to design a sacred space that embodied the contemporary search for meaning. We imagined the church as a mysterious place, a building that resists simple categorization. Like the best churches of medieval Europe, we sought to present parishioners with an architectural image of God as both a mystery and source of enlightenment. The dense layered mass of buttresses, vaults and spires in Gothic cathedrals that ascend to an overwhelming height letting in light in a warm colored glow materialize the beauty of a life lived in pursuit of a higher purpose.

The Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod invites us to wander around its grounds and discover sunken gardens, pockets of blue light and an enigmatic profusion of talismanic walls.


Our design for the Cebu church encourages visitors to treat their visit to church as a search: The bliss of existence is in the thought that in each path taken there is a lesson learned. The multitude of doors and passages in the church serves as an architectural representation of God’s open-ended love.

Like a forest, our design for the church appears to be a puzzling structure of stone and sand that has risen from the ground almost without explanation. Yet upon further study an organizational system reveals itself.

All the walls are located in one direction so that the building is completely opaque from one side and totally transparent in the opposite view. Anywhere in between these two states is an optical play of light and dark. The walls are aligned along a grid that follows the spacing of the pews marking the relationship between the minute scale of the individual and the cosmic scale of the universe. The monolithic quality of the walls plays off the fleeting reality of the colored light that filters through the clearstory windows.

Mysterious, rational being

For the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod we revisited the Gothic idea of God as both a mysterious and rational being.

The church has 100 walls. Each wall has a unique height and width so that they seem almost like people. No one is the same and yet they are all connected in the fact that they exist together as a cluster. The systematic links and gaps between the walls create opportunities to locate the many different auxiliary spaces required in large churches such as a baptistery, an adoration chapel, prayer niches, the sacristy, 14 Stations of the Cross, and even a quiet room for childcare. The walls come together to form a kind of congregation. They work like a finely coordinated swarm of bees able to organize a multitude of tasks while simultaneously creating an open and adaptable system.

The walls are taller than normal. They appear like fins at the back of stegosaurus, providing shade to the roof and diffusing natural light to the interiors. They perform like vertical brise-soleils protecting the roof surfaces from direct radiation and reducing the building’s overall heat gain. The walls are structure, ornament and environmental control all at once.

Our design for the Chapel of Pedro Calungsod encourages the ethos of discovery. The sacred is, after all, inexorably linked to the fact that we are here only for a short time while our architecture aspires toward permanence.

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Tags: Cebu , Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod , Roman Catholic Church

  • Edgar Lores

    Talismanic walls?  This is superstition.

    • Yxon

      Just enjoy to beauty of God’s creations.  Its just the writer’s play with words. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeth.colderas Jeth Colderas

    Were you guys EDUCATED???? then how come you are so GULLIBLE???? Pedro Calungsod is nothing but a myth fabricated by the Catholics so they would have a NEW PRODUCT to sell. Their TARGET BUYERS???? the youth.

    • feb142010

      :) I don’t know about Pedro being a myth, but have you had access to the documents that the Church considered to confirm his existence? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeth.colderas Jeth Colderas

    Why did it take the POPE errrrr GOD more than a hundred years to canonized Pedro as a saint???? Was it that hard for the Pope errr GOD to decide that he is worthy to be saint? What about the others who died with Pedro??? why is it only Pedro was made saint???? is it because those others with him are nameless? CANT the Pope errrrrr GOD REMEMBER their names????

    • feb142010

      uhm, just a few comments: 1) It is clear to us, Catholics, that the Pope is not God; 2) It takes so many years to canonize a saint because declaring someone to be in heaven requires an extensive study of his life (although the martyrs are studied differently) and they need evidence as well. The Church does not just declare someone to be in heaven because it will be part of the faith of her people, and that’s crucial. 3) The Pope did not say that those who died with Pedro are not in heaven. But for the Church to declare saints, it requires time, study and evidence. That’s why every November 1, the Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day (in celebration of those saints who made it to heaven but the Church on Earth doesn’t know yet). 4) Regarding your last question, uhm, again the Pope is not God, therefore… :)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HUBZQT7WKGEBIJNEV6VVWRCZ34 Mr

    It’s so nice. Good write-up pero nakalimutan sabihin ng author yong exact location. Want to visit this next year.


    we neither the pope nor anyone else in this earth including the saints can judge a person or declares someone will go to heaven or hell it is God domain and His power His alone judge a person!! declaring pedro calungsod as saint is a earthly and mortal decision not GOD as he being a saint!! so, no one should pay homage or even pray for his help because does anyone know or did GOD said or manifest to anyone that calungsod is saint!! the roman catholic hierarchy declared him so but did the BIBLE ever said that the pope or anyone on this mortal world can simply says that person is a saint otherwise… it is wrong for anyone to build a church in honor of a person it should be only for God alone no one else is honored or named a church after him.. God is the sole BEING that is Glorified and Honored!!!


    pity why people build churches in honor to someone but not to GOD HIMSELF in his honor!! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BL2GYU35SO6HTJUEAUTXS3QFYM George Lapulapu

    can someone please explain what is meant by – “enigmatic profusion of talismanic walls”. it sounds beautiful, but i dont understand it…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AR2HUUECAUT2D3PSC4WPVCET3I RJ

       Reminds me of Toohey in The Fountainhead.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TC3D4QO2AIM5SJIZ2VHV4Y5FSQ Tank

      try a dictionary or google…i tried the latter…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NV25ZPWMBDYFXEYR3AWQ43ZS5E Hein S

    GOD commands “Do not make unto thee any Graven Image.”

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