Grace Methodist Church
Text by Fong Hoo Cheong
15 years after its completion, the designer of Grace Methodist Church, Fong Hoo Cheong, revisits the thoughts and ideas that went into his design.
That wall at the end represented to me a typological conundrum. It occupied in reality just 1.5m of the length of floor plan yet it had to carry the entire significance of the altar, the transept and the choir of a church. In fact, most of the typology of what is a ‘Church’ is to be found here within that 1.5m. I thought that whatever it must become it should never be a backdrop to a stage or be confused as one. Sometime later on, when I visited the Church alone and saw sunlight from above, beside and from beyond the cruciform slit my fears were allayed. The drum set oddly replacing what an organ would have done.
I also recalled a lunch held by the church quite early in the process to raise funds from the congregation. At that time I have yet to complete the materiality of the church but had to present a model. I decided it is to be white and not to be too telling: a sketch model. Hence, it was quite devoid of material information. At the back of my mind is, whether the client would be that keen on what I have decided. I have then decided quite clearly, but privately, that “off form” concrete of the roughest texture possible should be used for that wall. That somehow it needed to be a “poor” material, a humble every day material stripped of all render or covering and of itself rising from a thick base at the ground thinning as it goes into the air. I was surprised later when a church member told me that he particularly liked the granite stone that I chose; he told me that it felt appropriately grand for the Church.