Church of the Transfiguration
3 Oct 2018
Centrally located at the heart of Punggol town, the Church of the Transfiguration is one of the largest parishes in Singapore.
Standing within an area of about 3,000 square metres, the building optimises the use of space to accommodate the main church hall, lobby, adoration room, auditorium, 15 classrooms, roof-top garden, priests’ living quarters, and 140 carpark spaces.
The design of the church centres on the biblical scene of the Transfiguration, which took place on Mount Tabor in Israel. The overall massing of this five-storey building—finished in a sandstone look-alike texture, complete with 45-degree bevelled edged chamfers—symbolises the mountain and exudes a spirit of permanence. An authentic stone from Mount Tabor has also been incorporated into the foundation of the church.
The theme of light is accentuated and expressed through tall vertical windows wrapped around the building, with one feature elevation in white aluminium perforated motifs. The modular windows—louvered, pivoted or fixed—wrapped around the building create a monastic ambience within.
A grand staircase leads up to the main sanctuary, giving a sense of a journey up a mountain.
The three-storey stained glass in the 1,100-seater main sanctuary features the Transfiguration scene—Jesus in the centre, flanked by the prophets Moses and Elijah. Designed by Italian stained-glass maker F.R. Vetreria Artistica, the cross-like artwork forms the centrepiece of the space and draws focus to the altar. The hall is column-less, so worshippers have an unobstructed view at Mass no matter where they sit.
The church is envisioned to be community-friendly; hence, the first storey facing the main street is designed to be relatively opened. The landscaped entrance plaza offers seats for the public to stop and rest. Supporting facilities are weaved into the building with pockets of prayer spaces interspersed on the first and fifth storey. Being a town with many young families, the church is designed with ample family-friendly facilities, such as nursing room, child protection seats at designated toilets, and kid-friendly wash basin, among others.
With a tight and compact site (and budget), the challenge was to juggle the spatial requirements in the brief with the requirements by the authorities, such as minimum carpark provisions. These spatial constraints have translated to design solutions that facilitate dual or flexible use of spaces. The main sanctuary was carefully planned to enable the sacredness of the space to be experienced within a modern architectural context, with meticulous study of line of sight, acoustics, audio-visual, materiality and lighting.