Since the end of communism and its oppression of religion, thousands of new churches have appeared across Eastern Europe. Unlike their Western counterparts, they usually only host religious services. However, a new church in Hungary is not only acting as a Christian haven, but also as a community centre.
This multipurpose design is thanks to local people in the town of Páty, who crowdfunded and organised the project themselves to meet the needs of their underdeveloped socialist-era neighbourhood. Saint John Paul II Church was completed in 2020, and alongside its minimalist liturgical space, it includes communal and educational rooms, an event space, guest rooms, parish lodging, offices, service rooms, and a garden. The elliptical building has also become a venue for non-religious concerts, exhibitions, and children’s events, while the garden is used for hospitality and leisure activities.
The project’s experimental design puts the garden, rather than the chapel, at the centre of the design. The worship space is shaped like a Baroque-era apse, but with modern angles and pockets.
Robert Gutowski Architects, who designed the building, describe the project as “an important message that high-quality architecture can be implemented within the framework of a community-based organisation, without professional management and regardless of economic background.”
This article is part of Concrete Ideas, an architectural series highlighting creative and emblematic projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.