fot. Radosław Drożdżewski (Zwiadowca21), wikimedia.org, licencja: CC BY 3.0

Wasilkow church. Modernist architecture of the building

This is another article created in cooperation with the Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Białystok. As part of this series, we present selected monuments of Podlasie and describe their history. This time we draw attention to the parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy in Wasilkow, which has artistic values – it represents a type of sacred modernist architecture with historicising elements alluding to old-Christian basilica churches.The church was built in 1966 and the works were managed by engineer Leon Żukowski

The three-nave church, with a basilica layout, was founded on a traditional rectangular plan, is built of brick and fieldstone, and is partially plastered. The nave was covered with a gable roof, while each of the bays of the side aisles received a separate gable roof. On either side of the straight-enclosed chancel, there are a vestry and a chapel – lower, covered by a flat roof, separated by an arcade with a canopy supported by two pillars. The chancel wall is pierced by a substantial oculus over which a Latin cross has been superimposed

The chancel of the church has a partial basement – it now houses the Wacław Rabczyński Memorial Chamber. An octagonal chapel, topped with a flattened dome with a spire resting on a circular drum pierced with rectangular windows closed with a semicircle, is attached to the nave part of the church on the western side. The north-west corner of the church has been fenestrated, a direct reference to medieval architecture. The façade is flanked by a tall rectangular bell tower with an openwork opening. The rectangular doorway housing the main entrance to the Wasilkow church was incorporated into a horizontal wall of unplastered fieldstone

The austere, flat façade of the church is softened by architectural detailing based on geometric motifs. The dominant decorative elements are the simple frame divisions of the façade, the framing of the window openings, and the main entrance, reminiscent of lassoing, or medieval architectural decoration in the form of narrow columns of various profiles. In the Wasilkow church, the cascades have been greatly reduced to geometrical shapes with a rectangular cross-section. On the other hand, in the finial of the chapel and the tower, there is a belt with a pattern of a ‘cut-in-plaster’ crystal-star, referring to the solutions applied by Oskar Sosnowski in the church of St Roch in Białystok. In addition, rhythmically arranged vertical window openings, ending in a straight or arcade, are one of the elements in the composition of the temple’s façade

The interior is divided into three naves, and the basis of the reinforced concrete structure are columns in the side walls supporting the horizontal beams of the flat ceiling. Each bay features a stepped coffer with a motif referring to a crystal star. The nave is separated from the side aisles by a row of polygonal pillars with arcades. At either end of the side aisles, two spaces are separated: an altar space and a choir space. The choir above the porch and the altar space open into the nave with a reduced serliana motif. It is likely that some of the furnishings were designed by Fr Wacław Rabczyński himself

source: Provincial Office for Monument Protection in Białystok

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