Church Design

Download Church Design Presentation – 5th May 2016


Studio Pacific Architecture – Design Commentary – Sept 2015

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Concept Design Drivers

  • The Cloak/Kākahu - The cloak can cover, warm, shelter, nurture and protect us.
  • Weaving (warp and weft) - The Aho and Whenu are the warp and weft of the cloak.
  • Maternal Mother/Mary
  • The Book – Mary the God Bearer –The first to bear the word of God.
  • Natural Landforms - the Sand Dune and the Pipi.


Historical connections to the site

  • The current parish can trace a history to the Marist community at Pukekaraka. This is the oldest catholic community in New Zealand and was established in 1858. There Historical Map are a number of other sites along genealogy of the parish. These include; the Our Lady of Lourdes church at Paekakariki, The Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Patricks in Paraparaumu and Our Lady of Fatima in Waikanae.


Master Planning/Site/Landscaping

  • Careful consideration given to the location and relationship between School and Church.
  • The “ātea” space is bounded on three sides by the School Hall, School Administration and Church. It creates a shared forecourt to all three buildings.
  • The ātea is an open space for gathering and community activities.
  • Landscaping to the North of the church reinforces the “historical links” with a mixture of grass, planting, trees and open space.
  • Allocated space for future community facilities, such as a crèche and youth council facilities (incl. St Vincent de Paul).
  • The siting of the church allows the building to act as a marker for the site. It’s proximity to the site entry and adjacency to the eastern boundary gives it prominence and visibility from Milne Drive.
  • The building entry aligns with the entry axis established in the car parking and landscaping design and maximises the view across the adjacent wetland towards the Our Lady of Lourdes statue.


Church Design Initiatives

  • The building is a device that reinforces/maps the Parish’s historical connections. Weaving the present together with the past.
  • It is positioned to look out across the neighbouring DOC land from the Worship Space. Similarly the Chapel is oriented towards Waikanae and the Gathering Space North towards Pukekaraka and South towards Paekakariki and Raumati.
  • The building’s “spine” helps transition from the larger worship volumes to the small scale meeting and admin spaces.  The spine projects forward of the building in acknowledgement of the historical links North and South whilst also collecting people as the approach the main entry from the West. The entry doors located on the side of the spine rather than the end to preserve the view North.
  • The entry is “a space through which people move rather than gather”. Beyond the Entry, the Gathering Space opens up as a prelude to both the Worship and Meeting spaces.
  • The Worship Space steps down toward the altar. Immersed into (and cradled by) the landscape. The level changes within the space enhance the sightlines to and from the sanctuary, facilitating full and active participation.
  • The radiating geometry of the Worship space is designed to be inclusive, focussing attention on the sacred activities of the sanctuary space.
  • Seating in the Chapel are not fixed and can be rearranged to suit the occasion. Opening the glazed doors to the Worship space provides additional seating for large congregations.
  • Externally the large singular roof forms unify the collection of internal spaces.
  • Internally, exposed structure reflects the warmth and honesty of natural timbers and the finer grain of the building fabric.
  • The sanctuary design balances the space required to accommodate the liturgical customs on and around the platform, without compromising the “closeness” to the assembly.
  • The wall behind the sanctuary is solid (no glazing) to hold the crucifix and avoid backlighting the celebrant. Space between the sanctuary and the crucifix enables people to walk between the two.
  • Windows to the left and right of the crucifix provide the connection to the exterior landscape and view towards Our Lady of Lourdes.


Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD)

  • Stormwater collection and on-site treatment.
  • Natural Ventilation - It is proposed that fresh air be drawn up through the foundation (sub floor plenum) and warm air be expelled through high level vents. The benefit of having a tall volume like the Chapel is that it compliments the flow of air with better pressure differential.
  • This natural ventilation strategy reduces the extent of ventilation required in the external façade. Acoustic insulation of the building is improved and sound leakage to and from the Worship Space is reduced.
  • The proposed heating strategy (radiant heaters) is a response to the intermittent use of the larger spaces.  This system is not reliant on continuously run heating and cooling plant and will reduce running costs.
  • LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) structural frames are proposed for the Worship and Chapel spaces help reduce the building’s carbon footprint. LVL construction compares very favourable in terms of lifecycle analysis to other more fossil-fuel-intensive materials such as concrete and steel alternatives.
  • Design to follow best practice principles for Safety in Design for construction, maintenance and occupied use of the building.


Report Written By:
Grant Perry
For and on behalf of Studio Pacific Architecture