The protestant church on IJburg has now officially opened its doors. It is fascinating to discover that the church is invisible. It is so similar to its surroundings that it actually is indistinguishable from it. Democratisation apparently has gone so far that even Gods house now blends in with residences around it. Quite remarkably the logo of the church still is reminiscent of ‘House’… and the church is still looking for a name…
In 1999 we made a proposal for a church on IJburg:
Frits van Dongen, in his position as planner and supervisor for the new developments of IJburg, invited us to help him rethink the main Boulevard along the lake. IJburg is the latest expansion of Amsterdam; a man made archipelago in the IJmeer.
Up to that stage, the design solution for the boundary between water and land was purely technical, the ‘profile’ utilitarian. It would prevent erosion and keep the Island in place but it did not provoke much interaction with the water, the key potential of the new district. You could look at it, but the Lake would remain virtually inaccessible.
The idea was to create two harbors: one for the fleet of historic ships (the so-called Bruine Vloot)) and a ‘white marina’ for pleasure boats. These would become attractors on both ends of the new Boulevard that would ‘charge’ the 1200-meter long strip in between.
The sheer length lends it self for creating different milieus. One could become the Tarmac Beach, a landscape of artificial dunes covered in asphalt that would create the wildest skate park imaginable. The other would become a straight quay. The wide profile would become a stretched square at the water; the perfect spot for a market or the yearly fair. Here it would become possible to dock ships or to introduce floating functions in the water. Floating Kindergartens, Playgrounds, Sports and Cultural facilities would be a welcome addition to the monoculture of housing. Imagine one of these inflatable tennis halls drifting on the lake: at night a glowing bubble on the water…
One of the ‘missing’ programs for IJburg was a Church. It seemed nobody was planning one at the time. Did the future population not need this old school community center? But how to plan a city without some sort of ‘heart’?
Why not introduce a floating Church?
The cross shaped ‘ship’ would feature a glass roof. As soon as the service starts the ‘cross boat’ could sail off for ultimate concentration, as such hopefully evoking an enhanced religious experience.
(Rerendered for the Holy Urbanism issue of MONU # 10 by Florent le Core)