CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION, KARWAR

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The Cathedral in Karwar in its design brief strongly mentioned the need to be an impressive building from the outside as it represented the mother of churches for that area. But there was another realization dawning and that was one of an interior architecture – the need to create architecture inside a building. Far too often we are enamoured with a façade and the outside overall appearance, but in most cases we are too close or placed too eccentrically to a building to appreciate this.  We instead understand buildings by the way we enter and move through them. The Cathedral tries to address this. The entrance draws one up to a vantage point where one can have a formal overview of the building (from the inside). From here one can see the entire space where each space is positioned and detailed based on its religious significance, for eg., Seven steps representing the Sacrements step down and up from a Baptismal Pond close to the entrance (into Christianity). The twelve main internal columns represent the Apostles and they support the roof of the Cathedral.

The walls are of large raw granite slabs which are placed vertically, screening the interior yet stopping well below the roof level, clearly demonstrating the separation between roof and walls. The building has a series of stepped platforms that lead down to a central skylit atrium which houses the Altar and steps up again to a symbolic Cross and Tabernacle. In this building as well, the pavillion approach is exploited with a single roof floating over everything but because of its particular function, the focus is inwards.

The roofing system is a steel space frame with Mangalore tiles and raw granite stone slab walls. The concept was to create a building that is flexible in terms of number of people using it and thus a hierarchy of sitting areas. The layout of the Cathedral, sequence of spaces, number and layout of columns are all drawn from concept in Christianity. For eg., the Baptismal Font, which is an actual mini-pond with seven steps representing the seven Sacraments and a host of other such concepts. The roof is meant to float over the walls and a sufficient gap between the granite tops and the tiled eaves has been kept.

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