ST MARKS COPTIC CANADIAN VILLAGE
Following the ideology of monasticism and monastic architecture which was instrumental in formation of the Coptic church, this proposed 21st Century Coptic Center will be composed of a large central space enclosed by an L-shape group of buildings, framing a large central plaza or courtyard exhibiting the jewels of the project, the cathedral and the church. These holy spaces are designed as sculptural objects on the plaza and are located on Steeles Avenue, visible to all.
A four-meter high Plinth/Plaza forms the lowest part of the site on the corner of Steeles Avenue and Ferrier Street and extending to the street level on Acadia Avenue. This Plinth/Plaza or Base would hold the Cathedral and the Church and constitute Phase 1 of this proposal. This base will include three (3) levels of underground parking as well.
We propose the main entrance and drop-off area for the site to be on Ferrier Street. The site is additionally accessed through the Acadia Avenue in two points. On Steeles Avenue a green set-back area and a row of trees become a soft, welcoming edge to this center.
Cathedral and Church
This center begins with the spiritual elements of the program, the cathedral and the church. Both buildings will be oriented East-West according to the tradition of Coptic Orthodox Churches. The plan is a square plan with a large dome in the shape of a Pyramid with a large angled skylight, bringing light and identity to the center, and celebrating the origin of the Egyptian-Coptic culture. These holy spaces symbolize the Lord's divinity and humanity, and are united by one Plinth/Plaza. The entrance to the Cathedral is via a ramp through an entry in the form of two hands holding the Cross. We have retained the traditional sequence of Narthex, Nave, Deacons' platform with three Altars at the end to organize the cathedral and church plans. However, the spirit of 21st Century is expressed in this proposal through transparency and the design of its nave, offering openness and freedom within the whole center and to the surrounding community.
The Church's main entrance is from the sunken plaza accessed through a series of steps from the drop-off area on Ferrier Street. It is similar in form to the Cathedral but is smaller in dimensions. The sunken plaza will serve as an outdoor congregation area and a fore-court to both the Cathedral and the Church.
A large reflecting pool of water located between the cathedral and the church has seven (7) sculptural light-scoops bringing light down into the Chapels, the Church's Altars and the shared spaces below. This reflecting pool of water not only brings light to these spaces, it also acts as an outdoor holy space for meditation and prayer at the heart of this center.
As the glory of the Coptic church is in its Cross, a variety of seven large and smaller Crosses mark important elements of the center, such as the entrance to the Cathedral and the bell tower and the skylights of the Pyramid-structures. It is, however, the Main Cross of the Cathedral, lit from within, hovering 70 meters above the ground, that will be the most visible, signifying the essence of this Coptic Center.