The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration - Lagos

London based architects DOS Architects, were appointed to design The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Lekki, Lagos (2009).

Visually the design is very striking. I am particularly pleased to be able to share with you, the 'architect's' thoughts on his building. One thing about architecture is that there is always a thought behind it, much like art, sometimes your experience of the building/piece can be transformed by simply understand why and what was the thought behind the building.

It seems as if they were not intending on producing anything vernacular or related to the culture or traditions of the people living in Lekki, and because this is a commercial project that is a very justifiable standpoint to take. This building therefore becomes an icon or landmark rather for the church and brands the church. Since the shape is so striking, I can only imagine all the interesting descriptions people would give to describe the building perhaps to a wayfinder, perhaps it is the 'fish shaped building' or 'the building shaped like half of a traditional 'African' drum'.. I could go on (post any suggestions in the comment box below).

When asked the architect said that:

"Even though our design proposal may seem unconventional to the untrained eye, it is actually based on traditional principles of Catholic Church design: The main congregation Hall features a Latin cross above the Organ and altar; The hall has a nave and two aisles at each side which are all coincident with the main axis of the Church; we have placed a Latin Cross on the highest point of the Church’s structure, which will become an icon for the city of Lekki and Lagos as a whole."

Pictures below..

"The project consists of an organic skin which, in one single gesture, becomes the roof and external walls of the Church, enveloping and protecting the Congregation within. The main access is placed in the narrowest and lowest part of the building and leads into a spectacular entrance foyer, from which the visitor has views and clear access to both floors of the Church. The main staircase in the entrance foyer divides the Church into two halves which are visually linked by the large atrium that traverses the building. The funnel effect within the entrance foyer moreover reinforces the huge and spectacular scale of the main Congregation Hall and the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration to either side."

"The architectural concept and structural form are integral, with a series of arches of varying heights producing the sculptural form of the building as a whole. Arches are one of the oldest and most efficient forms of structure, utilizing the full height of the building to provide stiffness resulting in a relatively slender structure. Fabricated steel arches are positioned at 4m centres along the length of the building, with cold‐formed steel purlins spanning between the arches supporting the roof finishes and ceiling within. These arches are supported on each side of the building by a series of piled foundations taking vertical loads into the ground beneath. The horizontal thrust which results from the arching action is resisted by a reinforced concrete ground slab which ties the two bases of the arch together."

Pictures follow (click for larger views): 


I am interested to know your thoughts about this project. I understand that visually it does not appear vernacular nor traditional, however this is a non-Nigerian firm that designed this project, and unless specified by the clients/church they had no obligation to design from a different stand poit. Do you think they have been successful, are you convinced that the design has fulfilled the brief, surely it has fulfilled the functional aspects of the brief, which is to provide a church suitable for the size of the church's congregation, however, has it convinced you that this is a great response to that, or is it simply a sore thumb in the environment for all the wrong reasons.

Comment below and I will post my opinions shortly.

Also if anyone happens to have pictures of the construction process please email them to me : tjdesignz [at]

The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration - Lagos The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration - Lagos Reviewed by NG on 5/10/2012 08:00:00 am Rating: 5


min said...

I like it. Can't wait to see it completed.

Mary Jo said...

Actually..... I think it is very interesting. It actually looks like a pregnant woman laying down. And when you enter the building it is as if you are entering the Womb of God! Very interesting indeed

Anonymous said...

the church is interesting but i just not so sure about the covering which they are saying is organic skin?????? how does that work is it new material im confused


the plan works
in terms of the section, roof at pulpit to high

kathleen said...

hi! do you know if this got built?

NG said...

Hi Kathleen, I'm not sure if it's built yet, if anyone knows the status on this building please let me know!

Done Dealsngr said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thank you...

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Theophilus Emmanuel said...

I think it's beautiful! Better still is catching a glimpse into the minds of the designers. Has construction begun? Would love to photograph this one!

Which one matters the most to you?

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