Holy Rosary Church Complex | Trahan Architects

St Amant / United States / 2004

22
22 Love 3,342 Visits Published
The commission is an honest exploration of form, function, natural light and materials, providing an engaging and profound study in sacred space. The oratory is the focal point of its rural Roman Catholic campus, predominant by its unique placement and floating within the sacred precinct of a courtyard space. The masterplan of the rural campus creates a strong sense of place for all functions of the Parish, drawing a distinction between the program's sacred and secular components. Secular components of the campus take form as linear or "edge" buildings framing a courtyard where the oratory is located. Traversing the courtyard in a clockwise direction, the path leads ultimately to the oratory. In the opposite direction, the path leads always back to the community. The oratory, like a crescendo in music, creates a deliberate break in the fabric of the campus. Position, formal purity and height reflect the importance of the spiritual program and serve to distinguish the chapel from its surroundings. Rotation of the chapel further underscores the distinct orientation of secular and sacred lives. The resulting void between oratory and secular pieces create an outdoor room appropriate for large communal gatherings, smaller gatherings or private meditation near the chapel. Design of the oratory stems from the concept of identifying a pure, comfortable, sacred space every human has experienced - the womb. Since the womb has no orientation of up or down, all sides are treated equally, thus evoking a strong sense of mystery. All six sides of the oratory cube are the same size, color and texture to create this same lack of orientation and resulting in the same sense of mystery. This careful and deliberate challenge of one's sense of place continues through the rotation between exterior and interior spaces. Rotation of the chapel exterior is accompanied by a reciprocal rotation of the sacred chamber. This second rotation acts to realign sacred space with the orientation of the main campus signifying a union of spiritual and secular experience. The geometric basis for the parti of the oratory was derived from the Japanese four and a half Tatami rug configuration. This non-hierarchical system accommodates the numerous seating configurations for liturgical purposes. To satisfy the human desire for definition, apertures were created to introduce natural light to the oratory interior. Light enters through a variety of openings carved from the wall thickness without revealing context or light source beyond. In addition to giving occupants a sense of orientation, the obscured presence of light is symbolic of the paschal mystery of Christ. More directly, each aperture is a meditation on a single episode of the paschal journey, metaphors for the passage of death, resurrection, ascension and eternal presence. The transition into the oratory's sacred space is also celebrated through an experience of light. A single threshold containing a sculptural cast-glass door has been designed to gather and refract light. Lens-shaped in plan, the door's glass structure varies in dimension across its width, narrowest at its edge, 12 mm, and widest at its center, 75 mm. When approached, edges of the door appear to glow with the illumination from within. Another of the design philosophies employed was to avoid the use of costly or rare materials. Instead, materials naturally abundant in this region were utilized, allowing the materials to become radiant and glorified through proper use. The palette of materials is limited to board-formed concrete, plate glass and cast glass. Neither opulent nor austere, the Chapel presents a thoughtful meditation on sacred spaces and the spatial embodiment of spiritual experience. Intended use of building, special needs / priorities, client profile The client is a rural Catholic Parish in South Louisiana with strong French influence. There are three buildings in the first phase of the Holy Rosary Complex – an administration building housing the administrative functions of the parish; the religious education building; and the oratory, or chapel for the celebration of the rites. The oratory is intended for the daily use of small assemblies, less than 50 congregants. The parish desired a relationship between the oratory, the existing church and for there to be a place of prominence for this chapel in the new complex of buildings. The client also required the new complex to play an important role in the community life of the predominantly Catholic residents. Considerations budget, environment, heritage, council restrictions, site Holy Rosary Parish originated in March 1905 and currently serves 2,273 families. The parish and its complex is primarily a rural environment. The site consists of 15 acres, is predominantly flat and has no restrictions. Energy Efficient Design/Materials: Administrative and educational structures are characterized by entire walls of floor to ceiling glazing. Situated on the north face, these glass walls offer generous lighting and uninterrupted view without requiring excessive energy use to control solar gain. Further protection is afforded by the wing-like canopies designed to protect circulation paths adjacent to the glass wall. Interior temperature of the oratory is regulated by the thermal mass of cast-in-place concrete walls, up to 7 feet thick in some areas. Design Resolution design concept, planning; implementation of client brief; the use of colour, lighting materials etc to reflect and/or enhance the concept; difficulties encountered & their resolution The masterplan of the rural campus creates a strong sense of place for all functions of the Parish, drawing a distinction between the program's sacred and secular components. Secular functions of the campus take form as linear or "edge" buildings designed to define a courtyard, or sacred precinct, where the oratory is located. Concrete canopies parallel the linear edge buildings and serve as present-day interpretation of the relationship between conditioned and semi-conditioned space. The oratory, like a crescendo in music, creates a deliberate break in the fabric of the campus. Position, formal purity and height reflect the importance of the spiritual program and serve to distinguish the chapel from its surroundings. Rotation of the chapel further underscores the distinct orientation of secular and sacred lives. The geometric basis for the parti of the oratory was derived from the Japanese four and a half Tatami rug configuration. This non-hierarchical system accommodates the numerous seating configurations for liturgical purposes. To satisfy the human desire for definition, apertures were created to introduce natural light to the oratory interior. Light enters through a variety of openings carved from the wall thickness without revealing context or light source beyond. In addition to giving occupants a sense of orientation, the obscured presence of light is symbolic of the paschal mystery of Christ. More directly, each aperture is a meditation on a single episode of the paschal journey, metaphors for the passage of death, resurrection, ascension and eternal presence. Construction how particular factors influenced the choice of materials & construction methods, interesting solution etc. Regular meetings were held with the congregations to inform them of Vatican II interpretation and the importance of using materials from the site to create a unique design. Vatican II documents called for materials that were appropriate and permanent. The parish mandated the use of materials that were appropriate and of low maintenance. Cast-in-place concrete was chosen to satisfy these requirements based on its physical performance and intrinsic beauty, reflecting nature in its depth and irregularity of finish and color. Concrete also allowed the architects to create a visual relationship between the construction of the new oratory and the original church. The textured cypress lap siding of the existing church is echoed in the embossed patterns and wood textures of the board formed oratory exterior and interior surfaces. The secular use of the administrative and education buildings is distinguished through a contrasting smooth surface formed by conventional 4’ x 10’ high-density overlay boards. Composed of materials from the site, concrete color in both installations was unique to the region. The transition into the oratory's sacred space is also celebrated through an experience of light. A single threshold containing a sculptural cast-glass door has been designed to gather and refract light. Lens-shaped in plan, the door's glass structure varies in dimension across its width, narrowest at its edge, 12 mm, and widest at its center, 75 mm. When approached, edges of the door appear to glow with the illumination from within.
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    The commission is an honest exploration of form, function, natural light and materials, providing an engaging and profound study in sacred space. The oratory is the focal point of its rural Roman Catholic campus, predominant by its unique placement and floating within the sacred precinct of a courtyard space. The masterplan of the rural campus creates a strong sense of place for all functions of the Parish, drawing a distinction between the program's sacred and secular components. Secular...

    Project details
    • Year 2004
    • Work started in 2003
    • Work finished in 2004
    • Main structure Reinforced concrete
    • Client Holy Rosary Catholic Church
    • Contractor Quality Design and Construction, Inc.
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Churches
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