Bishop Selwyn Chapel

The Bishop Selwyn Chapel completes the final built component of Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland.

The design seeks to complete and extend the journey from North to South on the site, from the front of the Cathedral through to the columbarium and Auckland’s maunga, offering a continuation of Bishop Selwyn's vision and a resolution of the Cathedral cluster.

The interior and exterior spaces of the chapel are collected beneath a sculptural gilded ceiling plane that extends from the bricked chancel south wall and floats over a paved floor plane. The chapel connects the existing Patteson and Marsden ambulatories beyond the high altar wall and provides a place of worship in the Cathedral garden surrounded by century old oak trees.

The sweeping roof rises up at the edges, taking in the Auckland landscape toward Maungakiekie in the south and introducing the slate roof forms and timbered eastern facade of St Mary’s as a containment of the space.

The enclosure is an articulated arrangement of glazing, including fixed frameless side walls, paired opening panels to each ambulatory and finally a series of full height operable glazed doors that can be retracted to draw the immediate and distant exterior spaces into the experience of the chapel.

Inside, the intimate space accommodates up to 140 seated guests or 190 standing and can be rearranged in different configurations for weddings, concerts, exhibitions, lectures, conferences and special catered events in addition to the daily services and worship.

Tilted glazed panels line the eastern side, ensuring optimum acoustic performance while maintaining transparency and visual permeability. Structural and servicing strategies are arranged in a staggered series of slim vertical shafts that move between the interior and exterior spaces, further blurring the line of enclosure and ensuring the continued extension of the ceiling plane with minimal interruption.

The design aims to provide a simple yet powerful architecture that unifies the eclectic building forms and previously fragmented open spaces of the cathedral precinct.

Project Details:

The internal floor area is approximately 200m2, with a roof area expanding into the garden beyond that. The design competition was launched at the end of 2011 with construction completed in mid 2016. Fearon Hay’s project team was led by Stephen de Vrij with Michael Huh and Chris Wood. Tim Hay and Jeff Fearon are the design architects. Photography is by Patrick Reynolds.

Recognition: Winner of the American Architecture Prize (AAP Awards 2017) Winner of the John Scott Award for Public Architecture (NZIA National Awards 2017) Winner of a Designer's Institute Gold Pin for Public Architecture (DINZ Best Awards 2017) Winner of an NZIA Public Architecture Award (NZIA National Awards 2017) Winner of a Highly Commended Award for Religious Architecture (World Architecture Festival 2017) Voted in the Top 10 Most Transformative Projects in NZ in the past decade (Architecture NZ, 2017)