Russian Spiritual and Cultural Center, the Garden
Location: Paris, France
Area: 9000 m²
Features: Temple and cultural center in city garden. Meeting of traditional and modernity.
Client: Russian Federation
Author: Manuel Nunez Yanowsky (SADE)
Date and phase: International competition, 1st prize. Building permit 2011-2013

Project of Manuel Nunez Yanowsky, SADE SARL, and ARCHGROUP, on March 17th, 2011 became a laureate of the international competition, held by President Administration of Russian Federation, in which took part 109 architectural teams. The complex should include the Cathedral, administrative offices for the diocese, multifunctional halls and seminary classrooms, dormitory for seminarians and library.

Russian Orthodox Church is the central element of the Spiritual and cultural Center. The five-domed church matches the Rublev's canons. It is surrounded by the church garden, which can also serve for holding religious procession. The romantic church garden should reflect the typical Russian nature represented by birches, rowans, willows, maples, lindens. The garden starts around the church and then climbs up the terraces of administrative buildings of the cultural center.

Manuel Nunez Yanowsky explains the role of the garden for the project: “We cannot just out the Orthodox church so directly, so wildly on the territory of the other culture – the French one, the catholic one. We need a landing strip. For me the role of this landing strip was performed by a garden. The garden of Eden, of course, this is clear. But in any case, this is also the garden for the city of Paris. And it should be covered by something, solved in one gesture, because there should not be just the church, the garden and the cultural center. This must be the one, the whole. The parts should be united.”

A glass cover is a uniting element of the complex. Like veil, it flies from the banks of Seine, covers the temple with its plume and enfolds the cultural centre. This cover combines two very important symbols of Russian culture: 1) according to the pagan legends – the Flying Carpet, which brings a Firebird to the Russians; 2) the Protection (Cover) of Virgin, which unites all faithful.

The temple and the cultural centre are both whitestone. The cover flies over Paris due to the light metal frame. All parts of the Spiritual and Cultural Center are twice connected into the whole – on the ground by the romantic Russian garden, and in the air – by the cover – the Flying Carpet.  The bell-tower of the complex is situated at the intersection of Quai Branli and Avenue Rapp. From the outside, the bell-tower is represented as a huge Rublev’s icon (The Trinity), realized in stained glass.

Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Centre soaring over Paris is one of the most magnificent and at the same time graceful, delicate works of Manuel Nunez Yanowsky.