Kericho Cathedral

John McAslan + Partners, Kericho, 2015

 

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The main nave maintains a delicate and calm aura 

Edmund Sumner     Download Original

  • The main nave maintains a delicate and calm aura    
  • Exterior view    
  • The building overlooks a landscape of lush green valleys     
  • Kericho is the seat of one of the Kenya’s 20 Roman Catholic dioceses    
  • View from the terrace    
  • Detail of the ceiling    
  • Timber battens compose the ceiling    
  • The main concept was to build an inspiring sacred space    
  • SIte plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Isometric drawing    
  • Section AA    
  • East elevation    
  • Roof detail    

A new Roman Catholic cathedral in the Kenyan town of Kericho marries the sacred with the sustainable.

The town of Kericho is the seat of one of the Kenya’s 20 Roman Catholic dioceses. Even though it is a relatively new diocese, established in 1995, its main church, the Sacred Heart Cathedral, is the second largest in the country. The main architectural concept was to build an inspiring sacred space that would innovate in its use of local materials and skills to achieve long-lasting quality.

The building’s perimeter is marked with concrete and glass sculptures made by artist John Clark. It offers magnificent views across the tea plantations and surrounding hills to the north and east, and leads towards the apse. The imposing and tapering structure of the church works as a counterpoint to the topography. A stone podium carefully integrates each of the building’s 10 structural concrete ribs into the ground through terraces. These large steps are connected to stone drainage channels specifically designed to mitigate the large amounts of rainfall that can accumulate very suddenly, but they also control the flow of people. The large roof eaves further cater for rainwater collection, contributing to irrigation in the dry season.

Upon entering the cathedral, the passages of the rosary of bronze carvings lead to the main nave, an ascending vaulted trapezium-shaped space that, both in plan and section, splays towards the apse. While maintaining the traditional processional axis, the seating is radially organised to facilitate the view towards the altar, and can accommodate 1,000 people in the pews, and another 500 in the aisles.

The roof’s assembly of multiple layers helps create a naturally ventilated and acoustically tempered environment for the changing weather. Despite its dimensions and heavy structure, the main nave maintains a delicate and calm aura thanks to the interplay between materials and the zenithal light permeating through the longitudinal skylights embedded in the roof’s spine.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2012
  • Completed: Aug 2015
  • Floor area: 1,375m2
  • Sector: Religious
  • Procurement: Direct
  • Address: Kericho, Kenya

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