Project for a monastery on the ruins of a former church.

“Once a […] monk has made his final vows, the monastery becomes his entire world. It is a life without distraction of personal possessions or even idle conversation, bounded by prayer, physical labor and scriptural study. But monks are still human, subject to the same potential for loss of concentration, irritation and despondency as the rest of us. In this enclosed world, physical surroundings take on an enormously magnified importance. For the spiritual health of the community it is vital that the architecture of the monastery does all it can to support rather than distract the monks. “ – John Pawson

The monastery is located in north-west of Bucharest, near the hamlet Giuleşti, on the street extension of the same name, a former forest meadow, now a de-structured area of the city.

The new proposal considers the old dimensions of the enclosure, appreciated both in archaeological studies and the historical maps. The architecture soughs to be neutral, made ​​from the same material, through its unity to support the development of the religious life and incorporating the principles found by studying the architecture of the monastic phenomenon.

In the old traditional enclosures, the dimensions and heights of the ancillary area varied as required, giving an overall scenic character. This feature was deliberately implemented it in one continuous roof that takes different heights and gauges depending on the sheltered spaces, which gives an overall visual fluency.

Compared to the traditional scheme, secular and religious functions segregation was achieved by introducing a new yard in front of the one containing the church. In a time when the church seeks a rapprochement with the population, this new court houses public functions (secular), from accommodation to classrooms and libraries. The second courtyard is dedicated exclusively to religious life, the church being found here (at the center of gravity of the court), chapels, monks’ refectory and cells. Diaphragms that support the central body forms a scenography which represents a filter in the passage from one world to another.

Topography facilitated the vertical layout of the functions, thus creating a yard under the main access on site. It contains functions related to household and liaises with the monastery garden and orchard.

Behind the large backyard, the private cemetery of the settlement is located, whose chapel is on the axis of the bell tower in the first courtyard. Parking lots for visitors are in the immediate vicinity of the enclosure.

The entire enclosure is made of exposed white concrete, a material that helps to keep neutral and introverted character of the ensemble.

The former church of Chiajna monastery is a major achievement of the religious architecture from the High Middle Ages while being unique, but also a work of maturity and synthesis. The concept behind the church reunification is intended as a negative of the interior space, made ​​of the same white concrete, material that can directly express that aspect. The new coating flows like a resin over the ruins and has its own structure that allows it to have independence from the old walls. A steel structure doubles the brick walls and support the painted glass and the floor is made ​​of small pieces of white mosaic.

The Orthodox worship space is “tranquil», waiting for God. These characteristics reflect on the monastery to acquire an introverted and neutral character, in order not to interfere with the reason of being of the community: the church. The architecture of the complex should help the development of a precious religious life.




Alexandru Patrichi Architects


Bucharest, Romania