A Church on the Border

St John XXIII Chapel, Budapest, Rákoskert

Architect: György Major
Text: Vilmos Katona
Photos: László Francsics

The community of St Elizabeth’s Church in Rákoscsaba phrased their wish in the autumn of 2013 to have a new chapel built. The goal was to have it constructed on a site easy to access God’s house even for those members who live in areas out of reach. It is not a rare phenomenon in Western Europe either, as this process is the result of a natural tendency of enrichment that transform the outskirts of the cities. The project scheme completed by 2014, originally included a sacred chapel and a community house only, but the bishopry supporting the project soon decided about inclusing an eocumenic urn cemetery as well. Located in the eastern reach of Budapest, this settlement features a busy main road which is insulated acoustically, and if possible, it called for a building turning more inward, whilst it was well protected on the other side by a perpendicular avenue flanked by sycamores. The role of defense line is taken by the ramp counteracting the slight inclination of the terrain level it runs almost all along the street front and thus is the most dramatic component of the scheme. It may symbolize the border of the sacred area, but if we arrive here in the open-closed hall of the mortuary by turning at the sharp corner of the site, and thus simultaneously the last journey of the deceased too. Its vertical counterpart is a tetrahedron reaching for the skies. Organised on a triangular base, the belfry has a faux slate roof, and turns eastward with its copper-plated crucifix as if it was a roadside sign. Inside, beneath the gable roof the liturgical room is covered with a suspended parabolical ceiling. The scantly laid wooden panels of the wainscoting on the walls and in the ceiling create a friendly atmosphere: it impresses visitors as if it was the interior of an arch.

General design: Teamajor Kft.
Leading architect, interior designer: György Major
Structure: Judit Embersics
HVAC: Zsolt Marosi
Electrical engineering: János Petkovics
Public utilities: László Sinka, Edina Sinkáné Csekő
Traffic: Zoltán Péter
Main contractor: LATEREX Zrt.
Project manager: Péter Imreh
Client: Rákoscsaba-Újtelep Szent Erzsébet Plébánia, Szőke Lajos plébános
Investor: Esztergom-Budapesti Főegyházmegye