KOCHI: In a novel gesture of sorts, an old church will be razed to the ground to make space for a school. The 60-year-old St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church, located on the campus of Vimalagiri Public School at Kothamangalam, had space constraints for school activities.Considering the situation, a decision was taken by the parish to convert a portion of the school building into a church before demolishing the old edifice.
This will be the first instance where a building of a school is converted into a church. Once the religious services are shifted to the building, the old church will be brought down. The decision to convert the school building was taken as acquiring additional land for school expansion would entail huge cost. The conversion of the double-storeyed building into a church with its office on the first floor was completed in 14 months.
“The square-bracket shaped school building was constructed 36 years ago near the St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church. The church was located in the middle of the open space in front of the school, creating space constraints for the school which has 2,000 students,” said Jose Francis of Engineering - Designs and Structural Solutions, a Kochi-based company focusing on lifting and shifting, reinforcement and restructural engineering.
“The challenge before us was to remove the columns on the ground floor, which were holding the load of the first floor. The entire weight was transferred to dummy pillars and four columns and two beams were cast on the ground floor later. Changes were also made to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the church. However, the parish authorities are yet to demolish the old church to make space for the school,” Jose Francis said.
There had been objection from some parish members against the demolition of the church. However,a decision was taken after sorting out the issues. Till the demolition of the old church, the school-converted church will be used as a prayer hall,” said Fr Johny, vicar of the parish.