When Marist Sion College outgrew their existing traditional chapel, they wanted a new structure that would be unique a special. This new chapel would be a place that would represent their values as a Catholic school and connect to their heritage of the Marist Brothers and the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion.
The chapel and surrounding founder’s square form a narrative where the stories of the Sion and Marist Charismas interweave through pathways that take worshipers on two journeys as they approach the chapel. At the entry, these pathways meet before forming the two curved walls that wrap around the chapel to create a single place of worship.
On stepping into the chapel walls, a sheltered forecourt greets worshipers and separates them from the larger school site. The forecourt provides an opportunity for reflection and clearing of thoughts as patrons transition into the main body of the chapel.
The college wanted a space that would be light-filled and enriching while providing shelter and insulation from the outside world. There was a strong desire to use natural materials, forming a palate that was both simple and textural. The use of a mass material would also provide depth to the walls and openings, a separation of inside and outside and grandeur to the building.
Strawbale construction fulfilled and exceeded all these needs, forming a sanctuary for quiet prayer and contemplation. The material created the opportunity to create the beautiful curving walls that wraps around worshipers with a continuous surface. This forms a soft and inviting shell that allows for a subtle play of light and shadow. Additionally, the thermal and acoustic qualities of the strawbale create a truly warm and tranquil environment.
A simple roof structure sits above the curved walls separated by a line of windows that allows light to stream into the building and the ceiling to float above the wall. This separation highlights the massing of the wall. Elsewhere deep window reveals it open up views to hills and mountains in the distance.
The chapel provides the school with a beautiful spiritual centre that will be a treasured place for students, staff and the community into the future.