13131 86 Street, Edmonton
Designed by: Eugene Olekshy
Located on a calm street between two residential schools and a neighborhood of mid-century bungalows, the church massing of St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Parish complements the scale of its surrounding community. Celebrated by its street prominence, the circular massing of the church is balanced by the square floor plate of the rectory, seamlessly blending into the neighbouring bungalows. Visitors enter directly into the church sanctuary with a uniquely offset aisle, allowing the choir to nestle within the congregation. Service rooms are placed behind the altar in a wedge shape, leading to the church offices and rectory.
St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Parish is a striking architectural form representative of Modernist churches built in the post-war building boom of Edmonton. A single-storey, circular floor plan places the focus of the congregation towards the central altar, sitting directly below a seemingly endless roof vault. Precast concrete beams bent in a dramatic shape are suspended above the open plan, and locked in place by structural concrete tension rings at the base and peak of the inward-leaning peak of the roof beams.
A brick masonry facade complements the curved exterior wall and provides aesthetic weight to the church elevation; a counterpoint to the seemingly weightless roof, suggested by its dynamic volume. The architect maintains a textured materiality throughout the design of the church, experimenting with the texture and patterning of masonry design to create unique moments within the church interior.
The curved brick façade and conical roof are two distinctive design elements which make this church truly memorable.
Edmonton’s “Sunday Modernism” – Modernist Churches in the Post-War Era - Edmonton City as Museum Project