Blessed Sacrament Church, with its huge sloping roofs that nearly touch the ground, is fondly dubbed by many as the "origami church."Its conservaton status was announced by Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, at the 2005 URA Architectural Heritage Awards Presentation Ceremony at Malay Heritage Centre on Monday, Sep 26. Other post-war buildings approved for conservation are the former Metropole Cinema (now the Fairfield Methodist Church) in Chinatown and the former Jurong Town Hall. When a building is granted conservation status it is protected as a heritage building for people to enjoy today and in the future. This status also ensures that the building is not subject to compulsory government acquisition.
Mr. Mah said that despite their simple forms, these buildings are important for their social and historical significance; they are part of the memories of the post-war generation; they document the evolution of building styles in Singapore, and are fine examples of the work of our pioneering local architects.
"Most importantly, they capture the mood and aspirations of a young Singapore nation," he added. "Through their conservation, we hope to safeguard symbols of Singapore's modernizing and industrializing era."
The URA fact sheet on Blessed Sacrament Church said that its most iconic feature is the slate roof which is constructed in folds in the shape of a tent, symbolising the "tent of meeting" in the Old Testament.
The roof appears to fall to the ground to wrap the interior, with portions touching the ground and
resemble anchoring pegs, it added. These are other interesting features of Blessed Sacrament
Church highlighted by the URA:
- The main service hall is cross-shaped. The exterior brick face wall of the main altar has a Celtic cross.
- The roof has integrated slits of glass panels at the junctions where the four portions of the
cruciform shape meet, creating a dramatic play of light and shadows, which visually draws the eye upwards. This is a clever way of bringing light into the sanctuary.
- The combination of the structural fair-faced brick walls, and the timber ceiling panels create
a warm atmosphere of solidity and strength within the worship hall. The choir is located in the
balcony of the transept, designed to contribute to the ethereal qualities of the religious experience.
The church stands as a signature landmark along Queensway, forming one of the most prominent corners of the neighbourhood, the URA said. Queenstown was developed as
Singapore's first satellite town in 1952 with shopping and high density public housing. Then-
Archbishop Michael Olcomendy asked for priests from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts
of Jesus and Mary (Dutch Province) to prepare a parish in this locality.
In 1958, Father van Soest and Father Odo, came to Singapore to serve as priest-in-charge and
parish priest respectively.
The building was designed by Y.G. Dowsett. The parish hall was completed in October 1963 and used for worship. The church building was officially opened in 1965. As the congregation grew, a
new extension was added in 1982 and named as the Damien Centre.
This was renovated in 1992. The word "sacrament" which is used in its name means "the sign
of something sacred and hidden". In Greek, it means "mystery".