The Church of Beatified Restituta: rainbow colors and symbolic revelations

The Church of Beatified Restituta designed by Marek Jan Štěpán gets away from the repetitive visual codes to explore the intrinsic possibilities of concrete and the transcendental value of light

Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
DATA SHEET

Client: Roman Catholic Parish of Brno-Lesná
Architectural design: Atelier Štěpán; Marek Jan Štěpán, principal architect
Facade drawings: Petr Kvíčala
Photo credits: BoysPlayNice

The Church of Beatified Restituta bears witness to the fact that religious architecture is no longer moored to clear typological recognition, and instead continues to experiment with the linguistic and emotional possibilities of basic geometric forms, in keeping with the aesthetic and technological evolutions of modern times. The church is the result of a long process. The architect Marek Jan Štěpán has worked intermittently on the project since 1968, and thanks to the donations of the parishioners of Brno, in 2020 the building has become reality, in the midst of the concrete blocks of a residential complex.

Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno

The church is composed of three architectural parts: a hall with a circular plan next to the steeple with a triangular plan and the existing parish center, designed by Zdeněk Bureš, with a square plan. The order and spatial particulars of the parts refer to the liturgy and Catholic symbolism, through a shared, emphatic minimalism that intervenes above all on a metaphorical plane, in open opposition to the horror pleni of a culture now overflowing with images of all kinds.

The circular plan of the hall suggests the afterlife and eternity, in contrast with the square layout that refers to the transience of the earthly realm, and with the triangle of the steeple, whose yellow-red hues symbolize fire and suffering.

Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno
Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno

The interior of the church becomes a simple inner universe, severe but calm and welcoming, where the symbolic and transcendental bond with the divine is entrusted only to the aesthetic purification of the volume and the light that reveals the bare reinforced concrete with its protrusions. As Marek Štěpán explains, “on conscious and unconscious levels, the light in the church represents the existence of the world beyond our physical experience, and the existence of God.” Barely hidden under the roof of the round volume, a multicolored ring of glass 80 meters long brings a surprising lighting effect, releasing all the colors of the rainbow in the sacred space. On one wall, the triangular opening refers to the tearing away of one of the two veils in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Church of Beatified Restituta, Brno

The presence of God is translated in the asymmetrical dome, constructed by a series of wooden boards, which seems to indicate the divine touch in a fingerprint. A spiral staircase in steel crosses the tower, which unlike historic steeples aimed skyward like missiles, shifts towards the church with one of its two openings. The other, in red, functions as a lookout point towards the center of the Czech city.