Morphing the brand
Glastonbury, UK | Interior Architecture
“In order to design a building with a sensuous connection to life, one must think in a way that goes far beyond form and construction.”
Sacred architecture is a religious architectural practice concerned with the design and construction of places of worship, such as churches, mosques, stupas, synagogues, and temples. Many cultures devoted considerable resources to their sacred architecture and places of worship. Religious and sacred spaces are amongst the most impressive and permanent monolithic buildings created by humanity.
Religious architecture is what brings people together. Sacred spaces are a place for celebrations or mourning. Despite this, different religions have disconnected and built boundaries between people for centuries, causing conflicts even nowadays.
This project aims to find the lost link between the differences, to unite people and to create a space where one can celebrate his/her beliefs. Apple Chapel is a multi-faith space, where everyone is welcome, no matter religious or atheist. Everyone that wants to make peace with himself, everyone that wants to establish a better connection with the world surrounding, everyone that is ready to find
the light within and follow it in search of harmony.
One of UK’s most famous sacred places is without doubt Glastonbury and the Somerset levels. Glastonbury is associated with Avalon, a legendary island featured in the legends of King Arthur. It first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 1136 pseudo-historical account Historia Regum Britanniae (“The History of the Kings of Britain”) as the place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged.
The origin of the name “Glastonbury” is unclear, but when the settlement was first recorded in the late 7th, and early 8th centuries it was called Glestingaburg. Years ago the district had also been called Ynys Gutrin in Welsh, that is the Island of Glass, and from these words, the invading Saxons later coined the place-name ‘Glastingebury’. (Wikipedia 2017)
The hill lies on various layers of the Beacon Limestone Formation and the Dyrham Formation.
Just like the legend of King Arthur who found the strength and light within himself and pulled out the sword Excalibur from a rock, this project aims to unite people from different backgrounds in search of
their inner strength and spirituality. The aim is to create a place for the celebration of different faiths, interreligious understanding and dialogue. Apple Chapel is a place for worship and tranquillity, peace and harmony. The project is focused on building a sterile environment, not specifically for one religion, but welcoming diversity. How does Apple relate to this concept? Apple focuses on people. It aims
to attract everyone, unite everyone. Their products are designed to appeal to as many people as possible. Through design and architecture, the chapel is applying Apple’s values and aspirations.
Sacred geometry finds its application in the floor plans of the building. Using vesica piscis and elements of the flower of life, the project combines different spaces into the symbol of unity. In the centre of the symbol grows an ash tree. Ash tree has been of mythical importance to the Celts. It is often associated with healing and enchantment. In “Norse Viking” mythology it is known as “The tree of life”. (Woodland Trust n.d.) The tree is potted under the foundation of the building. Considering the fact that it grows to be a large type of tree, it is to be replanted. Ash tree is the third most common tree in Britain. However, it has been dying from diseases for the last few years. Growing and replanting the trees will contribute to the ecosystem.
The layout of the chapel is simple — two open-plan levels. Rather than creating separated functional spaces for prayer and/or meditation, it is architecturally important to fuse them back to one central worship hall so that the space would encourage dialogue amongst visitors. The second level offers more privacy.
The staircase is a main feature of the building. It represents the journey to oneself, the climb towards discovering who we are, and what we believe in.
“The climb is rarely easy, but the view is always worth it.”
One of the factors to achieve spiritual clarity in a space, create the right atmosphere and at the same time provoke mysteriousness is light.
This project aims to create a mystical feel within the space by using light and shadows in the space. The glazed façade of the building is oriented South-East for maximum use of daylight and a breathtaking view over the Somerset levels and Glastonbury Tor. A glass opening in the roof is also providing light in the space.
The concept of the project is looking for the light ‘within’ on the journey back to ourselves and our spirituality. Artificial LED lighting is used to inspire this concept. The whole structure appears to be glowing from within. Hidden lighting can be seen in details like the staircase, leading to the second level, handrail, windows and seating.
Another reason why light takes such a big part in the design of the chapel is that it is common to all faiths, in comparison with icons or other types of symbolism.
The focus in this project is on elements, such as light, water, earth, stone and nature: aspects of ancient sacred space and practice movingly incorporated into the design. The main construction material is limestone which is found in the area. Using local materials not only connects the chapel to the location but also saves the transportation of materials and contributes to sustainability. Another feature is using projections and music throughout the space, to create a calm and welcoming atmosphere. The juxtaposition of these ancient and modern technologies to create a moving appreciation and response to the presence of light is another part of the dialogue between history and modernity. (Faith&Form 2017)