Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

 

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

If you’re not familiar with it, the above quote is Psalm 36:7. It was the architectural inspiration for the voluminous, white wings that adorn the simple, glass structure of the Bosjes chapel in Witzenberg, South Africa. Designed by UK practice Steyn Studio in collaboration with South African Studio TV3 Architects, the building’s structure is almost angelic. 360 degree scenic views are captured from all four sides of the 420 square metre space.

The silhouette of the chapel echoes the undulating mountains surrounding it, reinterpreting the peaks and valleys within the roof structure itself. At times the roof appears to dip so far down as to graze the surface of the ‘reflection’ pool surrounding it. The pond, not just a place of contemplation, was strategically placed to increase the sense of lightness and motion of the building. Like a pure white dove it’s wings appear to glide across the surface of the water. The winged effect of the roof is achieved by the combination of low dips and dramatic lifts. The ‘tip of the wing’ reveals full height glazing, structurally supported by cruciform shaped frames. It is this rise and fall of the roofline that creates the undulating effect of wings in motion.

“Its serene sculptural form emulates the silhouette of surrounding mountain ranges, paying tribute to the historic Cape Dutch gables dotting the rural landscapes of the Western Cape,” said Steyn Studio, led by South-African born Coetzee Steyn.

 

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio Set Within South African Picturesque Countryside | Yellowtrace

 

In order to achieve the visual lightness, the architects realised they were going to have to keep the design and construction simple. The roof made from cast concrete, is entirely self-supporting, acting as it does as the walls and columns for the building also. Simple and structurally efficient, the roof, a thin shell concrete structure, was designed around parabolic and hyperbolic arches.

The cruciform shaped frames that support the high glazing panels are homage to the biblical symbol, the cross. Here on one interior elevation it replaces the traditional crucifix in front of the golden pulpit. It is a simple but striking reference, beautifully detailed.

Whilst churches are seen to be spiritually reflective and inward seeking this space was specifically designed to create a more open space. A space to draw people in whilst at the same time expanding outwards, encapsulating the awe of nature and expanding ones own awareness.

“It is a space which invites in as well as expands its intimacy to the valley and mountains beyond, raising the awareness of God’s creation in the immediate surroundings,” said the architects.

The tranquillity of this space with its white lit interiors and its awe inspiring scale and form do just that. It effortlessly connects you to something deeper.

 

Related Post: Stores On Design // Take Me To Church.

 

 


[Images courtesy of Steyn Studio. ]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle
Contributor

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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