COMPETITION ENTRY BY PAUL MCNALLY ARCHITECTURE

This is my entry for the competition.

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Architectural thesis

The building consists of two forms which intersect. The outer volume of the ‘gathering space’ is extrovert in nature, raised and glazed so as to draw in the public. This space has a horizontal dynamic reaching out over the landscape and wider site beyond. Symbolically this space represents life, the outer world. The facade is animated by displaying the funeral attendants meeting, greeting, chatting.

context

 

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The junction between the two volumes is held apart by a channel of light, this is the threshold to the internal volume.

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The chapel volume is introverted representing the inner world of thought, reflection, spirituality. The thick walls are protective, enveloping in a warm embrace. The dynamic here is upwards towards the light which pours in through the glazed aperture of the truncated roof form. The walls are made of curved glue-laminated timber columns, between which are timber acoustic panels. The space has a sensation of warmth and protection, intimate in breadth but lofty in height.

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Relationship to the monument

The chapel is symmetrically centred on the 1916 plaque. The entrance plaza is a shared space with the 1916 monument. The steps to the entrance plinth will contribute a natural addition to the 1916 monument plaza as a viewing stand, or a podium for a speech. A slight modification to the first step onto the existing plaza aligns the new and existing.

layout plan

Architectural expression

The Chapel elevation is democratic in expression, free of philosophical bias. The ‘gathering space’ at the entrance is open and highly glazed, a call to all the deceased’s friends and family to join in the ceremony. The building form is solemn, bearing gravitas but is enlivened by the tall, bronze chapel roof form. This performs the typological task of acting as landmark and symbolic gesture.  

Plan logic

The front entrance faces the monument and is aligned with the 1916 plaque. The plan consists of an outer arcade in white precast concrete columns and beams. This arcade has acts as route to entrance from peripheral points, such as collection from drop-off and delivery from chapel exit to car-park or plaza. It also acts as typological reference as building of status and support framework for solar modulation on east/west facade.

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The structural language of the concrete columns is repeated in the Gathering Space, columns are omitted to create uninterrupted space and retained to align the entrance to chapel. All secondary spaces serving the Chapel and Gathering space are subjugated to this hierarchy and form the periphery. The toilets and office are readily located off the Gathering Space, and the sacristy and plant at the edges of the Chapel.

Chapel seating.

The seating is arranged so that entrants arrive at the head of the seating, nearest the celebrant. This will encourage take-up of front row seating in small services. The orientation of the seating on a diagonal axis reinforces the logical progression to a separate exit. The roof light is positioned the light the face of the celebrant.

 

Schedule of areas

Chapel 250

Lobby 114

Sacristy/Robing spaces 63

Public toilets 34

Administration office 14

Ancillary space/plant 42

Total 517

 

Arrival and departure

Careful consideration is given to the process of hosting three funerals simultaneously.

diagram

Stage 1Arrival

Funeral 1 arrives in the drop-off, plaza, outer western arcade and front arcade. The arcade allows people to gather in shelter if the lobby is occupied. The vehicular cortege arrives at the drop-off, which is at the same level as the arcade and floor level. The pall-bearers carry the coffin along the arcade to the entrance as the followers gather on the upper podium or plaza in larger funerals. Disabled access is by drop-off area directly onto the arcade or if there are greater numbers of disabled clients these park against the eastern arcade and alight directly at podium level also and enter the Gathering Space when available.

Stage 2. Gathering and service.

Funeral 2 is in the Gathering Space awaiting access to the Chapel and enters when Funeral 3 ends.

Stage 3. Exit

Funeral 3 at the end of the service exits from the rear into the eastern arcade. From here funeral attendants have direct access to the car park where funeral cars await and disabled car parking is as close as can be. Pedestrians have a covered arcade space to wait in inclement weather, which brings them back to the front podium and 1916 plaza. Alternatively pedestrians may leave along the rear access road.

Functional concerns

Removal of coffins is discreetly achieved by allowing the removal vehicle to reverse into the plant/ancillary space for loading behind a gated screen.

Lighting

The Chapel is naturally lit by a large single roof light facing south-west which is sheltered by brise soleil and supplemented by interior lighting. The Gathering Space is naturally lit by the light channel roof light and the curtain wall glazing to the entrance. The upper level of the entire periphery is clear glazed, to allow views of the Chapel form intersecting the outer pavilion. The lower panel of the ancillary space glazing will be opaque and insulated.

Materials and structure.

The Chapel is an expressed glue-laminated curved timber beam structure internally with bronze standing seam cladding outside. The outer pavilion is a pre-cast white concrete column and beam structure. The curtain wall is a triple-glazed aluminium clad timber construction. Flooring will be polished concrete. The podium and steps will be honed limestone. Semi-mature trees will be planted to line the eastern path and car-park boundary. Foundations are an insulated concrete raft beneath the Chapel space and the outer pavilion will sit on driven piles.

Acoustics

The protruding parallel glue-laminated timber columns forming the walls of the Chapel are designed to deaden speech reverberation. The timber panels between will be finely tuned to deliver optimal acoustics appropriate to the space.

Environmental concerns

The building is designed to greatly exceed regulatory energy performance levels. High levels of insulation are programmed for building fabric elements and airtightness will be to best practice. Solar gain will be utilised as a primary source of space heat supplemented by heat pump technology.

Ventilation.

The building is designed to be naturally ventilated in the outer pavilion supplemented by a heat-recovery ventilation system serving the Chapel. Air-conditioning will not be required.

Overheating risk is eliminated by solar gain modulation in east/west facade be means of an active seasonal shade within the arcade.

Permanent brise soleil is incorporated into the chapel roof light.

See the announcement of winners here