Liturgical furniture for the Cathedral of Our Lady in Tournai
Shortlisted competition – 1st Prize, Ongoing project
Collaborators : AHA, Caruso St John Architects, Studio Otamendi, Prototype engineer, Ets Fredericq stonemason
For : La Fabrique cathédrale

The project proposes a new liturgical furniture for the cathedral of Tournai: the altar, the ambo, the cathedra, the baptismal font are rethought to reflect the way the celebration is done nowadays following the reform of the liturgy Vatican II. Our interest in understanding the historical and sensitive layers of the cathedral and immerse ourselves in the symbolism of the Christian religion was essential to the project. The project aims to find a relationship between the grandeur of the cathedral and the human scale, a ‘hyphen’ between art and architecture. We create an octagonal podium for the celebration placed at the center of the transept, joining the appeasing and delicate atmosphere of the roman interior with the more dramatic gothic choir. The octagon, geometrical shape between the square (earth) and the circle (sky), symbolizes the passage from a material to a spiritual world. With its 8 sides, it dialogues with the nave, the transept and the choir, and refers to the golden octagonal ring found in the archive of the cathedral. The podium entirely made of marble stone, is an elevation of the actual ground of the cathedral, it creates a permanent base for the celebration. An additional dimension is introduced through the creation of an ornamental design on the stone. The triangle, the symbol of trinity, is repeated in different sizes and surfaces on the podium, in a composition of five triangles in reference of the five bell towers of the cathedral, a landmark for the citizens of Tournai. The furniture attempts to dialogue with the elegance of the cathedral through refined details (motifs, engravings) and the use of noble materials (Tournai Black marble, polished brass, textiles with local manufacturer). While inscribed in the existing fabric, the new furniture expresses, around the figure of the octagon and the triangle, a new unified language, a palimpsest witnessing a new era of openness for the cathedral.