Prosp. Chervonoyi Kalyny, 070 – Nativity Church
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church is located in the center of the biggest socialistic residential district of Lviv – Sykhiv – and constitutes the main iconic building forming its image. The building was constructed in 1995-2001 according to the design of Radoslav Zuk, a Canadian architect of Ukrainian origin. Today it is one of the most distinguished religious buildings constructed in Ukraine after it gained its independence. The design reflects the Byzantine tradition interpreted in a modern way.
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church is the main iconic building of the Sykhiv district, the construction of which symbolized an ideal change of the residential formation and its transition from a worker settlement to a self-sufficient residential district (Черкес, Мисак, 2012).
Placement of the church in the main public core of the residential district is related to a whole range of events. Construction of the largest socialistic settlement in Lviv that was made home mainly for workers of the adjacent companies happened in the late 1970s. The general center was planned to be located at the crossroads of prospect Chervonoi Kalyny and Sykhivska Street. As per initial design, 6 functional areas were planned there: trade, health care, servicing, administrative and management bodies, culture and sports, hotels. Due to ideological and economic problems faced in the period of collapse of the Soviet Union, that complex was never implemented, while a large area in the middle of the district stayed empty up till 1993. (Черкес, Мисак, 2012).
In 1989, after the atheistic period, Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church left the underground and became legal. At that time churches started being actively rebuilt, and active religious life also started in Sykhiv. Thus, in 1990 some 10 thousand people gathered to the ceremony of sanctification of the rock on which the new church in the middle of the district was to be built. Close to the sanctified rock a small roof-cover was built, and throughout the following year liturgies were celebrated there (History of the Parish). Simultaneously, the Greek-Catholic community of Sykhiv announced a competition for the design of the church to be built at that place. The winning project was designed by Radoslav Zuk, a Canadian architect of Ukrainian origin and a former student of Louis Kahn, today a professor at McGill University in Montreal (Черкес, 2009, 3-4). Radoslav Zuk has designed many Ukrainian catholic churches in Canada and the USA.
Construction of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church started in 1995, and on October 8, 2000 the building was sanctified by bishop Lubomyr Huzar (History of the Parish).
On June 26, 2001 near the newly-built church there was a meeting of pope John Paul II with youth which was attended by half a million people. Later the square was named in honor of the Pope, and the church got a double address: prosp. Chervonoi Kalyny, 70 and Pope John Paul II Maidan, 1. Close to the church a monument to pope John Paul II has been erected and a park has been planted in his honor (Черкес, Мисак, 2012).
The large scale of the main public space around the church allows to hold mass events, and now various populous meetings of religious nature are often organized here. The capacity of the church makes up 1,000 parishioners. According to a survey held in early 2005, the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church is attended by 9.7 thousand residents of Sykhiv (History of the Parish). As based on the results of the survey of 100 Lviv architects held in 2009, the church has been acknowledged to be the best sample of modern architecture n the city (Черкес, 2009, 3-4).
Radoslav Zuk, the author of the design, together with architect Zynoviy Pidlisnyi, painter of icons Svyatoslav Vladyka and Orest Fredyna, the parish priest of Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church were awarded the titles of laureates of the Shevchenko Prize for designing and constructing the church. In 2011 the church was awarded the State Prize of Ukraine in the sphere of architecture (Жук, 2014, 36).
The church is located at the crossroads of two main visual and functional axes of the district and is an architectural dominant there. Its and spatial layout is an example a harmonious combination of puristic, mainly rectangular forms crowned with five gilt domes. This way the building fits well into the context of modernist residential district with its laconic geometry. In the church design Radoslav Zhuk interpreted the Byzantine tradition via modern architectural forms fitting it into the architectural ensemble of the area.
The plan of the church has some features of a typical Byzantine church plan where one can read a square cross, narthex and an apse. The church’s spatial layout is similar to typical rhythmic compositions characteristic of Ukrainian churches (Zuk, 2014, 36). Along with that, geometric conciseness of the building did not envisage a complicated structure. It is based on a reinforced-concrete frame, and red brickwork for the curtain walls. This allowed the involvement of low-skilled workers in the construction. Initially, this was the idea of Radoslav Zuk to allow all the volunteering believers to be able to take part in the church construction (Cherkes, 2009, 3-4). Finally, a lot of volunteers, mainly residents of the district and parishioners of the local religious community, joined in. Due to that the building fit well not only into the city-planning context of the district, but was also integrated into its social dimensions.
Svyatoslav Vladyka, a member of the Ukrainian Icon Painters Union, along with the Sacral Art Association headed by him, continue working on the church’s interior decorations. They carried on the conceptual leit-motif of architect Radoslav Zuk in terms of interpretation of traditional motives via modern forms in the murals, transforming ancient Byzantine traditions into modern Ukrainian icon painting. In the process, the artists contact with the architect. Stylistically, Svyatoslav Vladyka characterized this kind of icons as "sacral minimalism". Mainly Italian materials, marble, Venitian gold are used for the decorations (Tunik-Chorna, 2010).
The church in Sykhiv is a spatial magnet and the center of cultural life. In particular, many hobby groups for children, studios, ensembles are localized in the premises of the semi-underground storey of the church. There is a school of catechism, a choir, the Sacral Art Association affiliated with the church, etc.
Zynoviy Pidlisnyy – аrchitect, co-author of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church.
John Paul ІІ (Ioannes Paulus PP. II) – the Saint of the Catholic Church, the Pope of Rome, visited Lviv and the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church in 2001.
Lubomyr Huzar – bishop who sanctified the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church in 2000.
Оrest Fredyna – priest of the Parish of Nativity of the Holy Virgin.
Radoslav Zhuk – Canadian architect of Ukrainian origin, professor of McGill University of Montreal who won in the competition for the design of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church.
Svyatoslav Vladyka – iconographer, head of the Sacral Art Association, decorated the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church.
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