Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church
The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church of St. Michael Archangel is a 1,700 square metre ( 18,000 sf ) four-story church hall, with two large social halls ( one with a performance stage and actors' green-rooms), a commercial kitchen, boardroom, library, classrooms, and washrooms.
It was built in 1890, as a 19th century Anglican church, and has been the Serbian community's downtown-Toronto local church since the 1960's.
Stylistically, the Client asked SGA to draw heavily from indigenous Serbian byzantine architectural styles and iconography. This challenge served as a wonderful framework for the design development for both the interior and the exterior.
On the exterior, the result is a wonderful collection of ribbed and scalloped copper domes, eyebrows, banding, and cupolas, together with stucco and stone details paying homage to their Balkan design and iconic origins.
As well, the undulating pre-existing roofs, and the new roofs, work together to evoke the undulating roof-lines of many Serbian villages and churches.
On the interior, the spaces are an intersecting blend of large and small volumes, with domes, barrel vaults, dormers, carved-wood panelling, and ornate patterned stone inlays. The choir bay is a recessed, arched, acoustic apse, from where the singers, raised on their plinthe, crisply and powerfully share their highs and lows.
Adjacent to either side of the choir apse are recessed candle-niches for placing candles to honour the living and to remember the dead. The ceiling of the niches are copper-sheet hoods, while their walls are clad in iridescent glass tessilated mosaics. When the niches are rich in lit candles the glow is quite spiritual.
Serbian artisans made the church's walls and ceiling and finishes their playground, adding beautiful wall murals of saints and folklore throughout the building; an intricately-carved solid - wood iconicus at the alter; and carved solid wood doors everywhere. Shortly, three large-diameter solid bronze bells imported from Serbia will be carried aloft to be mounted in the bell-tower.
High above the altar, in the quiet of the heavy-timber 19th century original attic, an inscription in pencil on a wood cross-brace, by the architect, speaks quietly to the Canadian peaceful way of co-existence, written in English, Hebrew, and Serbian, quoting in Hebrew from the Torah's Psalm 118:22 ...
"The stone which the builders rejected became the cornerstone. ",
and in English, " God Bless this Church ".
SGA anticipates a Phase III project, involving a retirement home and additional community amenities.