The Mountain Church of Julong- “More Than Just a Place of Worship”

An architecture studio Inuce has designed a unique church in Julong, near Quanzhou, China. The Mountain Church of Julong evokes the image of a biblical ark resting on a rock, blending religious symbolism with modern architectural design.

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unique church in Julong, near Quanzhou, China

Situated at the base of a mountain, surrounded by forest, and overlooking the town, the church’s design draws inspiration from the form and symbolism of an ark. Dirk U Moench, the founder of, explained, “Biblical archetypes were fundamental in our design process. The ark of salvation, safely landed on a foundation of rock, became the crystallization point for our design.”

A Symbolic and Functional Design

The church’s design mimics an ark resting on a rock, influencing its architectural choices, including its iconic form, color palette, and strategic placement at the site’s highest point. Built on a sloped site, the church ascends the hill with four terraces clad in granite slabs, resembling a rocky outcrop.

At the top of the site, the main hall, which can accommodate 1,000 worshipers, is designed to look like an abstract ark. Its oval shape is clad in scored glass-reinforced concrete (GCR) panels that also envelop the circular entrance atrium.

This design integrates symbolism with functionality. “We aimed for an experience that would touch both body and soul,” Moench said. The front of the main hall rises to resemble the ark’s bow, with an open-air entrance atrium offering views of the town.

This design integrates symbolism with functionality

More Than Just a Church

The Mountain Church of Julong is not only a place of worship but also a community hub. It includes a small library, study rooms, and conference facilities within its lower levels, making it a versatile space for the local community.

“Given the location at the foot of a mountain peak, the project had every chance to become a religious landmark,” Moench explained. “But being the first church in a newly developed city, it needed to be more than just a place of worship. We envisioned the church becoming a cornerstone of Julong, fostering social cohesion as a space where people of all beliefs can gather, learn, and grow together.”

This church is the latest distinctive design by Inuce in China, following their previous projects: a pink pebbledash church in Fuzhou and a church wrapped in 100,000 panes of stained glass in Luoyuan.

Despite these innovative designs, Moench noted that most churches in China still adhere to historical forms, making the Mountain Church of Julong a groundbreaking example of how modern architecture can redefine religious spaces. “The Mountain Church breaks this mold, offering a glimpse into what Chinese churches are poised to become: vibrant hubs essential to the city’s social and spatial fabric,” he said.

A Modern Landmark in Julong

The Mountain Church of Julong stands as a testament to how modern architecture can blend seamlessly with traditional religious symbolism. The church’s design not only serves its primary function as a place of worship but also acts as a landmark that enhances the social fabric of Julong.

Mountain Church of Julong stands as a testament to how modern architecture

Embracing Community and Nature

The church’s design embraces both community and nature. The terraces that ascend the hill symbolize a journey, guiding worshippers and visitors alike towards the spiritual ‘ark’ at the top. This journey is not just physical but metaphorical, representing a spiritual ascent and a connection to the divine.

Upon reaching the top, visitors are greeted by the main hall’s impressive structure, which resembles an ark perched on a rock. The use of scored glass-reinforced concrete panels gives the building a modern yet timeless feel, integrating it into the natural landscape while standing out as a significant architectural piece.

The open-air atrium before the sanctuary serves as a space for contemplation and gathering, inspired by medieval traditions. “We imagined the stern of the ark rising, revealing a vast space flooded by nature, a striking echo of Christ’s sermon on the mount,” Moench explained. This design choice allows for a seamless transition from the natural world into the sacred space, reinforcing the church’s connection to its surroundings.

Multipurpose Spaces for a Growing Community

Its design thoughtfully includes multipurpose spaces to serve the growing community of Julong. The lower levels of the church house a small library, study rooms, and conference facilities, making the building a versatile space for various activities. These facilities are intended to foster learning and community interaction, reinforcing the church’s role as more than just a religious site.

By incorporating these elements, it ensures that the church serves a broad purpose, catering to both spiritual and social needs. This inclusivity is central to the congregation’s mission, which is to create a space where people of all backgrounds can come together.

Creating a New Standard for Chinese Church Architecture

The Mountain Church of Julong is part of a trio of distinctive churches designed in China. Alongside the pink pebbledash church in Fuzhou and the stained glass-wrapped church in Luoyuan, it represents a departure from traditional church designs in the country.

The Mountain Church of Julong is part of a trio of distinctive churches designed in China.

Moench commented on this trend, noting that while most churches in China remain bound by historical patterns, projects like the Mountain Church of Julong are pioneering new approaches. “Despite a few remarkable exceptions in recent years, the overwhelming majority of church projects in China remain bound by historical patterns, yielding places that are visibly foreign and isolated by protective walls,” he said. “The Mountain Church breaks this mold, offering a glimpse into what Chinese churches are poised to become: vibrant hubs essential to the city’s social and spatial fabric, serving as points of identification for the entire community.”

Looking to the Future

As Julong continues to develop, the Mountain Church is poised to play a crucial role in the community. It stands as a symbol of innovation, inclusivity, and spiritual refuge. By blending modern architectural elements with profound symbolic meanings, he has created a space that is both deeply rooted in tradition and forward-looking.

The Mountain Church of Julong sets a new standard for what religious architecture can achieve, demonstrating that places of worship can be integrated into the broader community, serving as centers for social interaction and personal growth.

This approach to church design, as seen in this project, highlights the potential for architecture to influence and enhance the cultural and social landscapes of modern cities. As such, the Mountain Church of Julong is not just a building; it is a beacon of new beginnings, much like the ark it symbolizes.

Source:

Dezeen, INUCE

FAQs

1. What inspired the design of the Mountain Church of Julong?

   – The design of the Mountain Church of Julong was inspired by biblical archetypes, specifically the form and symbolism of a biblical ark resting on a rock. This motif serves as a powerful symbol of shelter and new beginnings, influencing the church’s architecture and placement on the site.

2. What are the unique architectural features of the Mountain Church of Julong?

   – The church features a design that mimics an ark resting on a rock. It is built on a sloped site with four terraces clad in granite slabs, resembling a rocky outcrop. The main hall, designed to look like an abstracted ark, is clad in scored glass-reinforced concrete panels. It also includes an open-air atrium and offers panoramic views of the surrounding town and forest.

3. How does the Mountain Church of Julong serve the local community beyond being a place of worship?

   – Besides being a place of worship, the Mountain Church of Julong functions as a community hub. It includes facilities such as a small library, study rooms, and conference spaces, making it a versatile space for various community activities and events. This inclusive design aims to foster social cohesion and provide a space for people of all beliefs to gather, learn, and grow together.

4. What sets the Mountain Church of Julong apart from other churches in China?

   – Unlike many traditional church designs in China, which often adhere to historical forms, the Mountain Church of Julong represents a modern approach to religious architecture. It integrates contemporary design elements with profound symbolic meanings, creating a vibrant hub that is essential to the city’s social and spatial fabric. This innovative design breaks the mold of conventional church architecture in China.

5. What is the significance of the Mountain Church of Julong’s location?

   – The church is strategically located at the foot of a mountain, surrounded by forest, and offers views across the town of Julong. This location enhances its role as a landmark and a spiritual refuge. The site’s natural beauty is incorporated into the design, providing a serene environment that complements the church’s purpose of being a place of worship and community gathering.

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