Mathieu Lehanneur has converted the choir at St Hilaire church in Melle in the Deux-Sèvres department (France).
The designer has enhanced the Romanesque building with a very mineral look and has added stacked layers of white marble to create a podium in this Romanesque church – visually, a surge of white marble that he imagines “prior to the construction of the church. A mineral presence justifying that the church was built there. Reflecting the extreme care paid to the telluric energy of stones and territories in the building of Romanesque churches, this place of worship would have been built on this specific area for the discernable energy that emanates from it.”
An architectural gesture equally paradoxical and strangely distinguishable which will undoubtedly mark an important milestone in the development of religious works. The white marble creates a homogenous mineral block formed from successive strata which seem to recall the sedimentary formation of the basement. The liturgical furniture (altar and ambo) is made from coloured alabaster, close to the colour of the original stone of the church. The result is a visual impact, one of Lehanneur’s trade secrets, this time using the purity of the geological chaos to highlight the perfection of the Romanesque geometry.
The complicity between the church and this mineral mass is completed by the baptistery hollowed out from the same material. The water that it holds appears to be from the river which runs below the church: the ultimate linking of the building with its environment.