Oikumene Church: created entirely in repurposed wood by TSDS in Indonesia

Designed keeping in mind the idea of Singular Materiality, the church has been built with the aim of environmental empowerment and adapts local material and traditions.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Jul 02, 2020

The Oikumene Church was designed by TSDS Interior Architects in Indonesia due to the urgency to provide a place of worship. This was necessary to accommodate the needs of the Christian community that lived in the area, as well as the employees of the plantation company. This project was conceived as part of the CSR programme (Corporate Social Responsibility) of the PT. KMS, a company that works in the plantation field. The primary requisite laid out by the clients was to build the church by using the unused and unsold timber that was available with the clients. This created a sustainable approach as well as established the framework of the conceptual methodology for the designers.

  • The Oikumene Church has been created out of re-used wood | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    The Oikumene Church has been created out of re-used wood Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects
  • The church adapts the idea of ‘Single Materiality’ | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    The church adapts the idea of ‘Single Materiality’ Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects

The initial approach the designers took was to adapt ‘Single Materiality’; using one material as a creator of the entire space, which led to creating this example in wood architecture. Wood became the focus of the entire structure, being the chosen local material. Tony Sofian, principal architect at TSDS Interior Architects, says, “The architectural concept was inspired by Rumah Betang ,  a traditional dwelling in a form of a long house that has been used over the years by the locals, the Dayaks. Philosophically, the design of the church has been created reflecting and imagining how God has saved the human race from sin. This has been depicted through the architecture with the slanted roof sustained by the walls of the Oikumene Church.”

  • The church has been inspired from the form of the traditional Rumah Betang | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    The church has been inspired from the form of the traditional Rumah Betang Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects
  • Interiors of the church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    Interiors of the church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects

The building has been oriented towards the main road and the spaces have been aligned in the order: the garden to welcome visitors, the Church for prayers, and the private areas - the priest’s houses towards the end. The spaces have been planned and organised keeping the idea of privacy in mind.

  • Site plan of the Oikumene church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    Site plan of the Oikumene church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects
  • First floor plan of the Oikumene church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    First floor plan of the Oikumene church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects

“We believe it is important for us to give the visitors the time and space to prepare themselves to wholeheartedly be ready for worship,” shares Sofian. Hence a sense of journey was created through the garden by locating the main entrance of the church towards the rear end. This would make sure the visitors walk through the garden by footpath until they reach the entrance.

  • The external skin of the structure creates shadow patterns through the day | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    The external skin of the structure creates shadow patterns through the day Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects
  • The circumambulatory path around the church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    The circumambulatory path around the church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects

The external skin incorporates a mesh pattern that creates a changing shadow through out the day. This creates a transcendental effect on the circumambulatory path of the church exteriors. The main types of wood being used are Bengkirai wood, Kapur wood, and Meranti Wood. These woods were found as residue from the wood industry and together were the client’s and designer’s response to environmental empowerment. The façade of the Church uses mix of Rimba wood, while Meranti wood has been used as an interior material to create harmony with the environment and a spiritually pleasing experience of oneness.

  • The longitudinal view of the church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    Longitudinal view of the church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects
  • Axonometric view of the church | Oikumene Church | TSDS Interior Architects | STIRworld
    Axonometric view of the church Image Credit: Courtesy of TSDS Interior Architects

The church appears as a visually pleasing structure that abides to local traditions and materials available in Indonesia while being environmentally sustainable by re-using and re-purposing the unwanted wood.

Project Details

Project Name:  Oikumene Church
Location: Sajau , East Kalimantan, Indonesia
Area:  277 sqm
Time taken from conception to construction: 2014-2015
Time taken for construction: 2015-2018
Name of the design firm: TSDS Interior Architects
Principle Interior Architect: Tony Sofian
Design Team: Eric Ekaputra Wijaya, Lili Royani , Shendy Setiawan 
Engineering & Construction: Emuna Design
Lighting Consultants: Orly

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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