axis mundi: cathedral fold
axis mundi: cathedral fold axis mundi: cathedral fold
apr 20, 2011

axis mundi: cathedral fold

‘cathedral fold’ by axis mundi in strasbourg, france all images courtesy axis mundi

new york-based architecture office axis mundi has designed ‘cathedral fold’, a 2,322 m2 place of worship in strasbourg, france. composed of a series of pleated concrete arches, the proposal features both subtle and dramatic design characteristics that together create a new and contemporary place of worship.

detail of concrete folds

glazed in between the folds of the concrete roof form, the cathedral opens up to the north and the south, supplying a generous volume of light for the interior space. the floor plan is plugged into the site, submerging the ‘cruciform’ layout below grade. a low-angle ramp leads the visitors into the cathedral where the foundational footings of the concrete folds accent the space in a rhythmic manner.

lit from within

the design utilizes an abstraction of a gothic cathedral in its exterior expression on the east facade. overlooking the entry ramp, a relief of the iconic form finished in a pixelated pattern casts a shadow on the surface which gradually disappears during the course of the day. subtle in its execution, the design serves as a dynamic and three-dimensional signage for the cathedral.

relief of abstracted gothic cathedral on east facade

interior view

night view

sectional model


from above

pulled-apart schematic diagram

project info:

area: 2,322 m2 design team: john beckmann, masaru ogasawara, viviane liao renderings and diagram: viviane liao, masaru ogasawara

  • It’s an interesting assemblage of icons, symbols, and iconic moves; very contemporary and almost an inside out decorated shed. But why subvert the most iconic idea of the plinth?

    pladd says:
  • Is this really happening?

    Teo says:
  • 🙂 Strasbourg ? 🙂
    The background is a photo from Warsaw, Poland. 🙂

    ‘lit from within’ –
    [url=,_Rynek_Starego_Miasta,_kosciol_Jezuitow.jpg&filetimestamp=20101017204816] you can see this tower -> [/url]

    [url=] and this church [/url] on ‘night view’ ->

    funny 🙂 says:
  • its like the seating that fell down in brazil recently(year ago??)
    fabric on steel cable attached to beams

    [url=] kiev olimpisky stadium [/url]

    errday says:
  • non sense in architecture, wellcome to the 21st century.

    cubert says:
  • can you say ‘professional model maker!’ this project looks incredible! says:
  • Sydney opera house alike…

    livecircle says:
  • too many ideas in one single place…
    is the site plan really necesary?
    does it really feels like a XVII century church?
    the exterior is sooo ugly

    juliano says:
  • I live in Strasbourg, and this place don’t exist in Strasbourg !

    Cisla says:
  • The section confuses me. What happens to

    garyd says:
  • I have serious doubts about the structure. I think the built object will not be that “clean”.

    raul says:
  • A dynamic and innovative structure for the indoctrination of minds into a bronze-age cult of human sacrifice. Yay!

    Can one ever truly separate the perception of the form with it’s intended use without a bit of mental fudging? I prefer my experience of a good building to be uncluttered with psychological compartmentalization, personally.

    What if this were a prison? Or a slaughterhouse? Wouldn’t it be a sick joke?

    : ) says:
  • Very cool!

    Korby says:
  • Obviously there was a rendering-DIAGRAM team!!! I mean, it seems the diagram was an afterthought and not a design tool for them. Nice model and rendering, though

    Libny says:
  • Is the building on fire in the night view???

    Stoner says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

(5 articles)


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,661 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample