Woods Bagot has designed a serene space for the Australian Catholic University’s Saint Mary of the Cross, MacKillop Chapel in Melbourne.
The Chapel was built in honour of Australia’s first saint, Saint Mary MacKillop and is located opposite her birthplace in Brunswick Street, now a pilgrimage destination. The interior features eight-metre-high concrete arched columns rendered in traditional hand applied white stucco plaster. These columns provide the integral structural frame for the chapel’s vaulted double height space and frame the intricate lattice of masonry.
The Chapel interior features three key sequential spaces, the Ante Chapel, the Nave and the Altar. The Ante Chapel acts as a transition space that leads from the main pedestrian street of the building and re-orients one towards the Nave and Altar. The Nave celebrates the union of the congregation as they seat facing each other and the celebrant. The Altar is the focal end of this sequence.
The feature lattice of hit-and-miss masonry has been integrated carefully to allow natural light into the space. The dappled rays admitted through the skin evoke a serene, contemplative atmosphere.
The resultant play between the vast scale of the construction and the intricate fineness of the surface texture is an expression of lightness, creating a unique juxtaposition between the structure and the skin.