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 master plan 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. They also asked us to provide a more detailed design for a small baptism chapel.
The intimate site is full of trees and close to a small creek and we have proposed a sunken building that responds to the local topography and blends into the natural surroundings. A circular concrete pergola is comprised of a series of open and closed spaces that change as you move around it. As the congregation enters the building they are taken through calm corridors of wooden walkways that hover over water. The texture of wood on their bare feet feels warm and guides them into the baptism pool where family and friends are watching as they are baptized with the breathtaking view of the forest behind.