Religious structures have for millennia performed as public spaces of congregation. Cathedrals in particular perform as civic national beacons, bringing together visitors from around the globe. In a fast-paced, changing world, such buildings can often seem the most consistent architectural typology, impervious to rapid technological development or lifestyle shifts. But even religious centres often must accommodate evolving social patterns. Projects like the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Addition serve as strong connective tissues linking longstanding tradition with contemporary change.
St. Andrew’s is the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore. It is one of Singapore’s oldest and most legible buildings, a protected national monument, and a testament to public memory that has stood since 1856 through many political and social transitions.
In 2005 an expansion was required to house a growing congregation and to offer increased accessibility as a site more compliant for visitors. The design for the extension seeks neutrality both in massing and material as a backdrop supportive of the established Early Gothic architectural language of the original church.
The addition fuses landscape and architecture, and in an effort to maintain a clear formal hierarchy on site, the majority of new structure has been designed underground. An amphitheater cuts into the site to reveal basement-level programming that includes a visitor centre, 800-seat worship hall, a prayer hall, ministry rooms, and chapel. The addition references the cathedral it serves: new columns are placed on axis with the existing grid of pillars, and skylights have been aligned to frame views of the North Transept — one of these openings illuminates the cross above a new alter.
A visitor center and entry pavilions have been added to the flat landscape above ground. These single-storey structures of glass and whitewashed walls are connected to the existing monument via a cloister walkway and to a Mass Rapid Transit station by a covered link-way of glass and steel purlins. Rock and herb gardens in addition to a sunken courtyard of trees are designed to offer natural, outdoor meditative spaces.