Sitting on the high profile Merivale site of the former St Albans Methodist Church, the new Chinese Methodist Church is a practical response to post earthquake rebuilds.

A building that is seen as a modern place of worship that fits into its prominent location was at the heart of our design for this project. With chapel space and seating for 250 people, the structure also needed to include a hall, administration offices, classrooms and catering facilities.

WSP Opus harnessed the expertise of a range of leaders including structural, mechanical, electrical and fire engineers as well as architects, and lighting consultants to design the structure as two simple mono-pitched forms that create volume in the parish hall and chapel. These spaces are interconnected by administration and classroom spaces to meet spatial requirements.

Placing a hierarchical emphasis on the chapel, entry, and steeple reinforces the procession into the worship space. Decorating these areas to a high standard ensures the importance of worship is easily understood both externally and internally, which is reinforced by the generous size of the building that resonates with music during the sermon. The stained glass windows and foundation stones from the former Church have also been retained and are displayed in the entry foyer to provide a connection to the history of the site.

Our design not only emphasizes the decoration of the chapel and entry, but it is also faithful to the structure of the building. We achieved this by exposing the laminated timber rafters as well as the appearance of the k-brace and frames. These elements have been interwoven into the fabric of the building to provide a scale, volume and decoration that is perfect for a place of worship.