The "7th Wonder" of Ghana
by Denise Allen Zwicker
"He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!"*
For two years, the new building for the Word Miracle Church International in Accra, Ghana, sat roofless. “We had built a 14,000-seat auditorium that was 59 meters across, without pillars, and we needed to cover it. But no one in Ghana could do it. No one in Nigeria could do it. No one in South Africa could do it. It was a dilemma,” recalled the Most Rev. Dr. Charles Agyinasare, presiding bishop of the over 500 affiliates and associate independent churches and senior pastor of the fast-growing Word Miracle Church in Dzorwulu, Accra, Ghana.
Then, while traveling in Ghana, Chris Wilmot and W.T. Cutts from Houston visited the partially completed structure and saw the plans for a conventional, long-span roof. “They saw the tangle of heavy trusswork that would be required. It was visual noise that would have to be hidden by the architect,” noted Roel Castaño, Geometrica's executive vice president. “They were familiar with Geometrica and suggested a Freedome® instead, which offers a visual symphony of patterns and beauty that help inspire the soul.”
Bishop Agyinasare asked Geometrica for a proposal, and Castaño traveled to Ghana in 2010 to visit the church and finalize the contract, getting to know the church and a bit about the local culture as well.
A system that makes the “impossible” possible
“Technologically, the challenge was to meet a completely arbitrary support boundary with a dome,” Castaño said. “Doing so required that every one of the Geometrica tubes be a different size. But that is not a huge problem because our quality system allows us to make every piece of the structure unique. It also allows us to identify, track and control the quality of every part at every stage in the production process, from incoming material through cutting and fabrication, packaging, and subsequent installation. Each part has a bar-coded label and redundant markings that make field installation nearly as easy as if all the parts were identical.”
A “wonder of the world”
With assistance from Geometrica, workers in Ghana installed the dome and clad it with gold-anodized aluminum.
“It’s beautiful,” said Bishop Agyinasare. “It is the largest auditorium in Ghana. You can see it from four or five miles away. When the sun is shining . . . ooooooo! And it has strips of translucent cladding so that, at night, you can see a big halo with light. It’s an awesome sight. “The President of Ghana, His Excellency John Drahmani Mahama, visited the church for its 25th anniversary on the 7th October, 2012, and said, ‘If there were the seven wonders of Ghana, this building would be one of them,’” Bishop Agyinasare noted proudly.
The church is called The Perez Dome. “It’s a Bible name meaning ‘breakthrough.’ It comes from Genesis 38:29 and is the name of one of Judah’s twins,” said Bishop Agyinasare. “When people come to the church, they get breakthroughs . . . in science, in education and so forth.”
The name is apt for structural reasons as well: Far more beautiful than a conventionally roofed structure and just half the weight, Perez Dome draws far-flung attention as the largest dome of its kind in Africa, according to Bishop Agyinasare.
Geometrica’s extensive experience includes houses of worship in several other countries, including Honduras, the Maldives, and Mexico. In Africa, Geometrica has also built dome structures in Senegal, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco and South Africa. Currently, Geometrica is supplying domes that will cover more than 30,000 square meters in neighboring Nigeria.