Prague February 28, 2008
, a.s. to Design and Plan a New Basilica in Gabon
Prague (February 28, 2008)
, a.s. signed a contract with the government of
Gabon for preparing an architectural design an
d building plans for a new basilica. This sacral
structure worth some two billion Czech crowns should begin to be erected on one of the hills of
the capital city of Libreville during the upcoming two years. After the hospital in Gabon, for
prepared the architectural design and, at the same time, acts as the general
planner, the basilica represents the greatest project implemented to date on the African
continent by Czech architects.
Sacral architecture includes type
s of structures with a special purpose. They are structures that combine
a clear architectural identity with visual arts. The structural solution is a significant means of expression,
offering various forms and concepts of the contemporary architecture.
ith its ground plan dimensions of 160 by 85 meters, the basilica is typical for its main spire rising up to
remarkable 67 meters. “The new basilica project will give the republic of Gabon a spatial structure that
has to host some 4,500 people,” describes t
he assignment academic architect Vladimír Kružík,
Architecture Division Director. At the same time, its design should express the philosophy and traditional
values of the Christian religion. One of the principal means used to express the artistic form is c
as sculpting material, aiming to present a spiritual philosophy with dynamic forms while respecting the
principles of statics. “The bearing structure of the basilica is formed by a reinforced concrete shell
revealed concrete structure that is on
the sides supported by a row of white steel columns,” explains
architect Alena Mocová, the author of the design. The concrete makes it possible to fill the structure with
tension that gives the basilica a dynamic appearance, expressing faith using the moti
f of praying hands.
We have selected the materials to allow for their easy maintenance and long life. Concrete mixed with
white cement and ground marble has a self
cleaning effect, resistant even to harsh climates.
The space of the cult structure is comp
lemented with light glazing
stained glass patterns that contrast
with the white mass of the concrete. Light plays an extraordinary role in sacral structures. Scenographic
or staging effects are some of the means of expression applied in the present
expressing imaginations, contemplations. The light naturally illuminates the interior and; at the same
time, prevents a direct contact with the outer environment, avoiding sun glare. The glazing in the
basilica is a technical matter yet
also an attractive challenge for artists. In the building interior the light
disperses into a range of color shades cast by shafts of sunlight, creating a spiritual space atmosphere.
This is for example the same case as in the cathedral in Chartres, one o
f the most beautiful gothic
structures in the world, or in the interior of the contemporary cathedral designed by Oscar Niemeyer in
Wooden glued trusses form the roof bearing elements that can be seen from within the building. They
span over the l
ongitudinal nave of the basilica. The central piece of the roof is a central copula, an
image of the heavenly vault, above which a big cross is suspended. The wooden ribs of the copula
structure lean on the reinforced concrete collar beam. Forces are furth
er distributed onto four supports
of the reinforced concrete shell. The interior furnishings
in particular seats, will again be made of wood
and in the same color shade as the roof bearing truss mesh.
The sacral structure is a place for gathering, litu
rgy, symbols and mediation. In this case, its
architectural design reflects all these purposes under the umbrella structural solution. We live in a period
when the latest technologies, accurate execution and new materials allow us to implement new daring
olutions. If the requirements are fulfilled, the architectural design will be a testimony of its time, as it
has been the case with sacral structures for centuries.
Gabonese Republic (Gabon).
The Gabonese Republic is located in Central Africa on the shore
Guinea Bay. Along the bay shore are large low lands going way deep in the continent. Gabon is rich in
natural resources, in particular oil. The total area of this country is 267,667 km2, the population is 1.3
In 1839 France declared a prot
ectorate over the territory of the present
day Gabon, and in late 1800s it
put an end to colonialism in the entire Gabon. In 1886
1910 Gabon was a part of French Congo and
then of French Equatorial Africa, and from 1946 it was a French overseas territory
. From 1958 the
country was an autonomous republic within the French Commonwealth and in 1960 it eventually
became a fully independent country. In 1967 a political regime of a single leading political party was
introduced, which followed the pro
urse in politics and economy. In 1990 a multi
system was introduced, yet only after the open social unrest in 1994 was formed a government of
national unity, in which political opponents also took part. Since 1967 the country’s president has been
Hadj Omar (Albert
Bernard) Bongo. The capital city is Libreville with 180,000 citizens.
The architectural design firm of HELIKA, a.s.
has been present in the Czech capital construction
project market since 1990. In its area of business,
ped into a leading company in the
architectural design, planning and engineering of structures and roads. In May 2004
into Slovakia and opened its branch office in Bratislava. In June 2007 it became part of the Obermeyer
group that does bus
iness in architectural design and planning in many countries all over the world.
greatest reference projects include the reconstruction of the headquarter building of Czech National
Bank in Prague, Na Příkopech street; the construction of a multi
purpose Chodov Centrum in Prague
Jižní Město; the construction of the surgery pavilion
in the Military Hospital in Prague
reconstruction of the Children’s Faculty Hopstial in Prague
Motol; the construction of the Green Valley
residential complex in Prague
Kunratice and that of the Sazka Arena multi
purpose sports center
Vysočany. HELIKA presently acts as the general planner for Nová Karolína, a development
project on an area of thirty hectares in the very center of Ostrava.
is at the same time the
architect and general planner of a hospital constructio
n project in Libreville, the capital city of Gabon.
Ing. Lenka Jeníková
Marketing Manager, Helika, a.s.