Church of Saint John Paul II

Páty, Hungary
Tamás Bujnovszky
Robert Gutowski Architects

The dialogue between religions and their practitioners has transformed and become increasingly intriguing with the integration of contemporary designs. Churches and temples shift their architecture design from focusing on their grandeur to accommodating humanitarian usage, reducing themselves to modern and minimalist structures for worshipping.

Church of Saint John Paul II is situated in Páty, Hungary, with an oval configuration where a crescent built space is rested on an open courtyard. The bell tower in red bricks stands tall; its angular geometry differs from the building’s concaving form, yet shares a similar pattern of rectangular openings in a repetitive manner. It guides the facade material to cover the rest of the structure, cloaking the pristine and immaculate interior.

Designed by Robert Gutowski Architects, the design was selected in a restricted design contest in 2004 and completed in 2019. As the architects observed global changes over a decade, the creative drive behind Church of Saint John Paul II came from the developments in liturgical cultures. Collectivity has been increasingly apparent as people seek for unity and humane connections through religious gatherings. This motivates the church design to be more inviting while upholding its holiness, seen through a rounded plastered-in-white interior—a complete contrast from its exterior wrapping.

The nave—an important physical element in churches and cathedrals—is carved with cascading light wells, bringing a natural shine onto the gathering space. With a simple white pulpit, the attention is redirected onto the community where rows of wooden chairs are configured in a circular plan. According to the designers, this is reminiscent of olden times when worshipping took on the simple form of congregating around a singular table. The altar made of stone is placed in the centre on a raised platform, protecting the relic left behind by Pope John Paul II. Its green and grey pattern resembles clouds, giving a humbly spiritual visual.

Rounded corners of the interior help bring the space together for an intimate atmosphere. Enclosed in white, the central nave opens to inner spatial programs such as service room, office, and living quarters. They all circumambulate the main space, expanding circulation paths through arched doorways and stimulating a sense of assembling, being together. Although modest in size, Church of Saint John Paul II is a structure that is appropriate for the village of Páty with the purposing of amassing the community and provide fulfilling spiritual experience. Where history meets modern culture, where design meets traditions, and where collectivity meets one singular faith.

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