Nisha Ghosh

“The Architectural Design of the Bethel Baptist Church Building”
Nisha Ghosh
If I am asked which buildings of our early architectural career one considers significant, one of them would certainly and especially be the Church known as The Bethel Baptist Church, a church beloved to us in many ways and the place from where we first received the food of God’s Word. It would be ill conceived for anyone to say that the skills of bringing conceptual clarity and the visual/spatial art of putting that together into an experience can be attributed to talent alone.
Every work of architecture must deal with, (by default or otherwise), and make constant reference to the brilliant and evocative underlying order of Creation by The Great Architect- our Creator God. Who can make a beautiful work of architecture without allowing the sunlight to trickle in and dapple the floors and walls, or the rustle of the leaves outside as the wind blows. The Church design work began with a brief given by Pastor Ken Waldock that described his vision of this place of worship.
The challenge lay in the interpretation of the space for a group of believers for whom the building itself is not symbolic but rather that the ‘Church’ is the body of believers itself. In an amorphous and adhoc surrounding context of cheek by jowl buildings, the church expresses itself as a cuboid that floats above street level opening the lower floor to the street completely with the introduction of a street platform. On the inside, however, the cuboid breaks down into shifting white planes to create a certain joyous exuberance of space. The gently stepped floor leads to the altar, whose textured surface bears no embellishment except the inscription of Biblical text or the inspired Word of God. A deliberate incision on the roof directly above the alter wall washes the wall with natural sun light at around 12 noon about the time that the teaching from God’s Word is delivered. The sanctuary and lower level community related functions are separated by an entrance foyer that allows one to move up perpendicular to the main spatial thrust of the sanctuary.
Other than Biblical Text which is inscribed in the raw concrete walls or the altar wall and sunlight there is no other means of embellishment to the building. The ceiling is exposed concrete and contrasts with the white planes.

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