Out­stand­ing church in­te­rior a space to trea­sure

Grand Magazine - - GRAND DESIGN - BY KARL KESSLER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY TO­MASZ ADAMSKI Karl Kessler is co-or­di­na­tor of Doors Open Water­loo Re­gion.

When we re­fer to “good ar­chi­tec­ture,” we usu­ally mean that a build­ing looks good on the out­side. And yet, old or young, that beauty can be skin deep.

A build­ing’s “soul” is its peo­ple; we are its in­ner life, on full dis­play wher­ever we gather. Even so, in­spir­ing in­te­ri­ors are rare.

Some­times func­tion for­bids inspiration, or de­sign­ers pour ev­ery­thing into out­ward ap­pear­ances. Of­ten, great ar­chi­tec­tural in­te­ri­ors are re­worked over time, for taste or util­ity. But once in a while we find trea­sure at the heart of a place and are in­vited to share.

Religion aside, few in­te­ri­ors bet­ter in­spire well­be­ing and de­light than the best of those found in places of wor­ship, and many of the finest sec­u­lar in­te­ri­ors – li­braries, great halls, ro­tun­das, leg­isla­tive cham­bers, mu­se­ums, courts of jus­tice, banks – use the same ar­chi­tec­tural vo­cab­u­lary of the tem­ple.

De­signed by Detroit’s Spier, Rohns and Gehrke, the 1914 brick-and-stone ex­te­rior of St. Matthews Lutheran Church on Ben­ton Street in Kitch­ener has just enough Gothic ver­ti­cal­ity to impress. But the 800-seat in­te­rior is the prize here, as ex­cel­lent a pub­lic gath­er­ing space as it is a wor­ship space.

Two transepts each hold a vast win­dow, al­low­ing day­light from the floor to the high rib-vaulted ceil­ing. Orig­i­nal wood­work by Water­loo’s Globe Fur­ni­ture adds warmth. The wrap-around gallery and the del­i­cate orig­i­nal brass chan­de­liers are ex­quis­ite. The 3,000-pipe or­gan is among the largest in Canada.

St. Matthews is still full of life, but as we move away from large, tra­di­tional places of wor­ship, we may lose many out­stand­ing civic spaces. Thou­sands are clos­ing; some are de­mol­ished. As they be­come rarer, let’s trea­sure the thought­ful gifts they are.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.