We all need a retreat into nature and spirituality every now and then. Some of us might enjoy a bit of hiking, meditation, or the odd road trip to the rural side of town for some time away from the noise of the city. There are quite a few other hobbies and activities that bring us closer to the natural world like:
- Bird watching,
- Nature photography.
A man from New Zealand took his love of nature and God to the next level when he decided to spend 4 years building a church using only living trees. After traveling the world, Barry Cox was inspired by the architecture he saw to create his unique church.
He has made the building available to public events such as weddings and other private celebrations. Take a look at the inside of the church, its beautiful natural surroundings, and the story behind how it came to be:
Barry was inspired by European architecture when he first decided to build his church. He was also fascinated by the lush and grand religious ceremonies of Italy (his ancestry).
His interest in architecture built over many years while he traveled the world. He traveled through New Zealand, America and Europe, and studied the churches of all the places he visited.
Then, after some searching, he found the ideal soil for his project: 3 acres of land at the foot of Mount Pirongia, in the city of Ohaupo.
Barry knew that he wanted to use his love of trees to make a living. So, he funded his own company: Treelocations. It specialized in moving trees from one location to another using a specially designed machine called a tree-spade.
Barry told stuff.co.nz: “People know how much I love trees. So they call me when there are trees that would otherwise be cut-down or removed. I go and kind of rescue them.”
Thanks to his tree-spade, one of three in New Zealand, he was able to think big when it came to his project of building a church made out of trees, complete with a beautiful garden.
After spending time taking care of his property, and learning about trees as he relocated them, Barry was inspired. One day he looked at his land and thought: “This space needs a church.”
So he got to work. Using the research he had collected from his travels, he began his project. He told stuff.co.nz that he started in April 2011 with an iron frame, and built his way up from there.
According to his website, he settled for cut-leaf alder when it came to the roof canopy. This type of tree is versatile, and it was easy to shape it over the angles he envisioned for the roof.
After some time, the cut-leaf alder’s branches became the frame of the church. Barry explained that he needed to use a type of tree with foliage that allowed light to reach the floor of the grass.
The entire church is a beautiful and special place, but it also has a personal significance to Barry. The altar is made out of marble from Lake Como, Italy, the place where his family came from.
As for the walls of the church, they are made of copper sheen. This is a type of Australian tree with thick foliage and a dark, almost earthy color. Barry trims it every 6 weeks.
Some other types of trees and bush that Barry used for his church include: Dublin Bay rambling roses, Black Tie Camellia hedges, Acer Globossum trees and Himalayan birch.
Barry’s initial intention with the garden was to have it for himself. He was driven and inspired by his love of architecture and horticulture, after all. His community urged him to make his beautiful work available to the general public.
It was only after his nephew asked him if he could get married at his church that he caved in and made it available to the public.
Now, the gardens and church host all sorts of events. The facilities are fully equipped with a parking lot, bathroom, and a wonderful labyrinth walk perfect for photography.