RICHARD HURLEY & ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS
Eldoret Cathederal, Kenya
Eldoret is situated approximately 7,000 feet above sea level and 200 miles north-west of Nairobi towards the Kenyan-Ugandan border. Set beyond the Great Rift Valley in an area of maize and wheatfields, and dominated by the 14,178 feet Mount Elgon, Eldoret is now a fast growing town with an anticpated population of 150,000 in the near future.
The Cathederal of St. John the Baptist is the first in the Diocese of Eldoret and seats approximately 1,000 people with standing room for many more. The site for the building is alongside the old St. John's Church on the Uganda Road, also the first in the diocese, which was built in 1929. From here sprang all the other churches in the Diocese.
The Cathederal is a symbol of unity and a visual focus of all other religious buildings in the community. The Cathederal contains the Seat of the Bishop who, as shephard of his flock, presides and rules. Thus, the Cathederal assumes an important symbol of unity.
The idea of corporate unity is expressed in Eldoret Cathederal by the concept of a fan-shaded congregation surrounding the Sanctuary on three sides. This is the concept of the open ring, where the alter is both apex and threshold. The plan develops in space beyond the Sanctuary by means of structure and enclosure is defined by light. Space becomes a means of communication and assumes a metaphysical meaning. The family gathers around the table.
A scalloped shell of concrete enfolds the plan. Overhead, the ceiling sweeps upwards in a gentle curve determined by steel roof trusses. A single column located in the open section of the ring supports the forward ends of the trusses.