With over 150,000 members, The Comunidad Cristiana Elim in El Salvador is a religious community in San Salvador that has outgrown its warehouse headquarters. The leaders of the church have purchased a plot of land on the outskirts of the city and asked Studio Saxe to develop a masterplan that will bring all their activities into one location, including a new auditorium for 10,000 people, a smaller youth auditorium for 2,000 people, and a series of ancillary buildings for TV/Radio, an infirmary, theological center, library, administrative departments.
Starting with the design of two auditoriums, our challenge was to create an architecture that was comfortable during the intense heat of the day without the need for electricity. A careful analysis of local wind patterns and computer modelling drove the form of two cocoon-shaped pavilions made of fabric stretched across a carefully engineered steel frame.
This lightweight structure allows for air to move through the internal spaces and keep the people inside cool. We took the opportunity to join both auditoriums with a large over sailing roof that creates a lobby space where people can congregate and chat before each activity. This covered open space becomes the focus of the interaction between the members of the church.