Influenced by the imposing columns of the Roman empire, the Church of Saint Alphonsus, also known as Novena church, is a prominent Catholic church in Singapore. As the congregation grew from humble beginnings in 1948, a $54-million revamp saw the 67-year-old church take on a gleaming new look. Clad in granite on the exterior and limestone on the inside, the sanctuary now features soaring arches, intricate columns, a dome and 24 large stained glass windows. The design team behind the revamp said it produced a design somewhat “reminiscent of European churches” – a design rare for modern Catholic churches here which tend to opt for more practical styles due to land constraints. The new Gothic-inspired sanctuary is connected with its original, conserved 1950s building. Mr Melvin Gamayot of CGN Architects said that the project was pressurising: “I usually design condominiums and commercial projects such as hotels, so I had a lot of sleepless nights coming up with a design and communicating this to contractors.”
He said he was inspired by the bible scripture of king Solomon’s temple. The king had a temple built that was inlaid with carved engravings of palm trees. “Inspired by the palm trees, I clad the columns of the main sanctuary hall in curved segments of limestone to create the appearance of a cluster of thin palm tree trunks with ribs, reaching for the heaven.” A three-storey building housing a 200-seater auditorium and multipurpose hall has also been constructed to replace a previous building which was termite-infested. A carpark has been added underground as well.
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