Sketch design of the saint Spyridon of Trimythous church with a parish house in Vologda

Project: Saint Spyridon of Trimythous Church with a parish house
Location: Vologda, Russia
Capacity of the church: 310 persons
Total building area: 1024 square meters
Stage: sketch design
Head of the project: Dmitry Ostroumov
Architects: Polina Askarova, Kristina Vasina
Designed by: Prohram Studio
Year: 2023

The project was awarded a diploma from the Union of Architects of Russia at the “Zodchestvo 2023” competition.

Our team of architects received the task of designing a church for 250 persons with a parish house for a spiritual and educational mission. As the church is dedicated to Saint Spyridon of Trimythous, the customer’s special wish was to turn to the Byzantine style. This would emphasize the connection of the new church with the places of the saint’s earthly life. At the same time, our team believes that the architecture of the church, as an integral part of the Christian mission, should preserve the continuity of tradition but also fit the context. For the church building, the context extends beyond its territory to the cultural and architectural environment of the city as a whole. Thus, the key task of the project was the creation of a style that would reflect the local centuries-old tradition of Orthodox architecture while also referring to the Byzantine heritage.
The design site is located in a new residential neighborhood of Vologda, outside the circular road along Vozrozhdeniya Street. On the eastern side of the site, there are residential buildings. On the north, there is the territory of a three-story kindergarten. On the west, there is a free plot of land for the future park. The design site, together with the park, form the central green core of the district. The general issue of architectural scale has become a significant factor requiring consideration for this project.

In general, the neighborhood consists of multi-entrance 10-story residential buildings, forming semi-enclosed rectangular courtyards. Obviously, it is impossible to achieve the traditional large-scale dominance of the church over the surrounding residential buildings in such a context. In this regard, it seemed especially important to integrate the designed buildings into the green zone and create a single ensemble providing a human-scale, comfortable environment. Thus, the project proposal expanded from the church area to the entire park.

On the western part, facing the intersection, an open square is designed. It has a splash pad, swings, and street furniture. The spacious pedestrian area is suitable for seasonal and Christmas fairs, local public events, and leisure activities for residents of different ages. Behind the square, the green zone of the park begins. Along its central main alley, there are children's playgrounds and recreation areas.

Along the perimeter of the park, there is a running track with a rubberized surface. It can be extended to a pedestrian boulevard perpendicular to Vozrozhdeniya Street. A running track connects three sports grounds for workout, table tennis and chess. From the central alley, Saint Spyridon Church can be seen. It is located on the axis of the alley, but with a 45-degree turn. With this positioning of the building, the orientation of the apse to the east is preserved. There is also a symbolic subtext. In the Orthodox tradition, the spiritual is opposed to the worldly, so the church building stands apart from other buildings along the red lines. Its turning sets an alternative direction. The location of the parish house follows the same logic. It fits the grid of the district, standing along the passage at the north-eastern border of the site.
Our team has analyzed the historical architecture of Vologda and identified a number of characteristic features. It was decided to implement some of them in our design. First, it is the formation by "addition," when the main architectural volume is made of several volumes placed in succession. Second, the simple, easily readable shapes of the volumes. Third, slightly sloping hipped roofs. Fourth, the rhythmical character of the facades. Fifth, the asceticism of outdoor decoration.

As a prototype for the spatial composition, we have chosen the unrealized competition design of a church at a children's hospital in Saint Petersburg by V. A. Pokrovsky and O. R. Muntz (1903). The characteristic Byzantine features of that project were a flattened dome, three-part windows, a semicircular ending of the quadrangle, colonnades inside and outside the building, and a warm color scheme for the exterior decoration. The volumetric-spatial layout of the church can be simply described as a high quadrangle surrounded by two-tier U-shaped choirs, with an adjacent narthex and sanctuary apse. Planning-wise, the temple consists of a prayer hall under the dome, as well as the southern and northern galleries. There is a narthex with a cloakroom and a staircase to the choir. There is also a sanctuary with a sacristy, a sexton, and a second spiral staircase to the choir.
On the second level, there are choirs open into the temple space, as well as two offices and a staircase to the bell tower. The internal diameter of the dome is seven meters. In it, there are eight lighting openings. Light openings in the tholobate and the quadrangle can provide a lot of light for the interior space of the church. The dome with pendentives rests on a quadrangle standing on four pillars with strengthened arches. On three sides, the pillars are connected by arcades supporting the choir ceilings. The sanctuary is covered with a semicircular vault. An unusual solution was a two-tier apse of variable diameter, as well as a conch with window openings cutting into the ceiling at an angle.

There are two exits from the church. In the entrance gallery, there is a ramp for people with limited mobility. Under the choirs, the beamed ceilings are installed. In the southern gallery stands a Golgotha cross. From the outside, the main volume of the church, the gallery, and the bell tower are covered with pitched lead roofing. It joins the quadrangle, on which stands a gently sloping, stepped dome. The church is decorated with plaster and light beige stone chips. There are details characteristic of Byzantine architecture, such as a strip of plinthiform brick running along the second level, decorative elements on the quadrangle, carved bas-reliefs, stone moldings, columns, and stone window coverings. In a niche on the apse, there is a full-height cross.
The building of the parish house has a symmetrical composition characteristic of historical architecture, but in general, it is modern in style. The building is double storied; its main facade faces the internal square and garden. Along the entire main facade, there is an open gallery with an arcade. The main function of the parish house is spiritual and educational, which determined its planning structure. The core of the building is a multifunctional hall for events, meals, exhibitions, and concerts. For the convenience of everyday use of the hall, there is a mobile partition wall dividing it into two unequal parts. One is a refectory for parish employees; the second and larger part can be used for rehearsals, classes, and small events. The entrance to the hall is from a spacious, bright lobby with a cloakroom, security room, and bathrooms.

On the side of Vozrozhdeniya Street, there is an entrance to the church store and café. At the café, there is a mother-and-child room. On the opposite side of the building, there are entrances to bathrooms for parishioners and engineering rooms. There is one staircase leading to the second floor of the building, which has its own emergency exit. Upstairs, there are administrative premises with their own bathroom, workshops, classrooms, and a children's playroom.

The sketch design was made in accordance with the main architectural and construction regulations. It takes into account the liturgical features and functional needs of the parish.
Alternative option: