Nearly 40 years after its inauguration, the church of the Diocese of Créteil was overdue for renovation and expansion. The Paris-based Architecture-Studio office was commissioned with the job. It took six years of construction, but the french firm Architecture-Studio has completed a $10 million expansion of Créteil Cathedral, located a few miles southwest of Paris. The structure, originally built in 1976 by Charles-Gustave Stoskopf, has doubled in size and received a new look — most notably two half spheres that rise above the church and join (symbolizing hands held in prayer) to form a soaring domed roof.
The capacity of the cathedral has been doubled and the sacred space given an identity. The overall project represents a major redevelopment, giving it a new architectural lease on life from a symbolic and pastoral point of view.
The silhouette of the entrance, on a human scale, merges with the monumental proportions of the new project, focusing on the nave of the cathedral that extends from two spherical wood-clad hulls – symbolizing two hands joined in prayer that meet above the altar.
The addition, which rises 65 feet above the church’s altar, features Douglas fir beams interspersed with windows by noted glass artists Udo Zembok and Pascale Zembok. The interior layout has also been refreshed. Seating was added—Créteil can now hold up to 1,000 people — with benches placed in a semicircle around the altar instead of in straight rows.
The idea for the renovation was meant for a sense of harmony in materials, a nod to ancient cathedrals, where stone vessels were cut and chiseled for light to enter the sacred space. “This allows a straightforward feeling of unity and simplicity,” the firm said in a statement.