13 April 2010

More on the Leura Chapel

Here are some additional images of the Leura Chapel in Australia that I posted on a while back. It remains my current favorite LDS Chapel with natural light carving out and shaping the forms of the building.

Looking toward the back of the chapel. Notice the natural light coming into the chapel from the light trough reflector bowl at the base of the wall as well as from the clerestory windows above. See building section here.

Looking toward the rostrum in the chapel. Note the light onto the rostrum coming from the notched area above the speaker. This window is recessed into the steeple tower.

Step-down Baptismal Font in main foyer of building. Natural light fills the foyer and corridor from the courtyard.

Light trough reflector bowl in the chapel - where the floor and the bottom of the wall meet - see section through chapel.

Stage in Cultural Hall - note there is no basketball court, making it a true cultural hall. The aerial photo has the basketball court exterior to the building. Natural light plays a key role even in the cultural hall.

Bishop's Waiting Area, while feeling a bit prison-like, is still filled with natural light and a connection to the exterior.

Exterior Beam Detail

Barrel Vault Corridor filled with natural light from the courtyard. Doors on the right of corridor open up to the cultural hall, allowing activities to flow directly from the cultural hall to the courtyard when the glass doors are opened up.

View to the Exterior Courtyard

Note the recessed window in steeple tower providing light onto the rostrum and speaker.

Serpentine Rostrum in Chapel. Note the wall of windows on the far wall which provides a connection to the main entry.


Lady Steed said...


Wow. It's so beautiful.

Th. said...


Sorry, that was me.

green mormon architect said...

I agree. It's amazing what a difference actually having a designer on a project can do. I have yet to find an LDS chapel as nice as this, but will keep looking. If only something like this were used as our repeat standard plan...

Holly said...

If only something like this were used as our repeat standard plan...

is that in the realm of possibility? Would the guys in the COB consider mass-producing a building like this, and would the architect sell the design to the church? because it is stunning, and it would work so well in places like the US southwest.

MoSop said...

1. I definitely like the idea of natural light - as MUCH as possible! LDS chapels built in the past 15 years often have the chapel in the center with classrooms and offices surrounding with no natural light at all except sliver windows in classrooms (usually with bathroom glass you can't see out of) and are downright claustrophobic - I simply can't bear to visit my parent's ward for this reason!

2. I do not care for the retro globe lighting in the chapel. Yuck. We had those in my home growing up - they are dust and bug magnets and extremely difficult to try to take apart and clean without risking life and limb. Designers must keep cleaning in mind. Since budget cuts, LDS Chapels are now cleaned weekly by nonprofessional volunteer members. This is also the downside of all your windows...which will involve hours of scrubbing and tubs of Windex...and risk for those requiring ladders.

3. I think the baptismal font in the foyer is definitely an interesting concept, and lovely to have windows. But, I'm not sure it's going to be appreciated. I'm thinking of all the toddler's mothers are going to be constantly trying to shoo away, and the fingerprints that glass will be collecting all week....and the deacons that will insist on trying to see who can vault themselves in and out of it the fastest...
Basically, the font may not receive the respect and reverance that it deserves.

4. What's up with all the beams and bars on the windows?! Are those really necessary? Definitely prison-esque.

5. I LOVE the cultural hall being separated from the gym. Probably not cost effective or possible for small plots of land, but a lovely idea nonetheless. Unfortunately, those windows are NOT a good idea. They are going to prove a big problem with glare for events that require lights off(slide shows, movies, plays and musicals...etc) In other words, every event scheduled in there other than a dinner - so, in the end, Relief Society sisters are going to recruit the Elders to climb ladders and paste black paper over them, which will then be such a hassle, they'll just leave the paper up there year round.

6. Overall, I'm pleased to see some thought and design going into our chapels. This is a place where members spend significant amounts of their weekly time and should feel inviting and peaceful and homey. It is nice to see someone trying new ideas.

Now, how to get rid of the cinderblock walls...

P.S. Congrats for being featured in Mormon Times BBB today.

Tod Robbins said...

Gorgeous design. Let's keep praying for more variety and aesthetic in America and beyond in the Church! Onward and upward!

green mormon architect said...

Hopefully I didn’t give the impression that this building was new. As stated in the first post I did on this, the building was built over 25 years ago in 1983. So some of the building is certainly dated, like the light fixtures, etc. Unfortunately, the standard plan designs in the last 25 years have moved, if anything, further away from this than ever. The current buzzword in standard plans is “efficient” rather than beautiful. The nice thing about this building is that it is both. This building was conceived by a talented designer, and the value of good design is ultimately not currently recognized as being of value or as a priority by the organization.

Also, as mentioned in the initial post, it has been rumored that the presiding bishop, during a tour of the building said the Church would never again build a meetinghouse like this. And to my knowledge they never have. This is the only LDS Meetinghouse I am aware of that has been published or honored with an award because of its beauty and architectural merit.

I agree with you, MoSop, about the oppressiveness of the buried chapels. They are dark and dank and not welcoming in any way. What you described is true with all of the current standard plans – even today. The current Fayette, Heritage, and Legacy buildings all have buried chapels. And even the newly designed Heritage-T that will receive a LEED rating does.

The current chapel light fixtures have been upgraded to not show dead bugs, be easy to clean, and be located directly over the aisles, rather than the pews. Unfortunately the windows are all frosted glass, which I can’t stand. Supposedly this is for security purposes, but I just don’t get it. It really disconnects you from the outside to not be able to see out. And not being able to see in doesn't draw you into the space either.

Regarding the font, I have seen many out in the open in other churches and they are treated with respect. Certainly burying a font behind closet doors in the back of a classroom doesn’t bring any respect or even awareness of a font. Considering it is the most important ordinance performed in the building, I think the building should be designed around the font – quite literally. That should be at the center, with all other functions peripheral to it.

The windows in both the chapel and cultural hall could be equipped with blackout shades that are easy to raise or lower. This would be needed not only for performances, as you mentioned, but also for satellite broadcasts and webcasts.

Tod Robbins said...

Yeah, I wasn't under the understanding that this was a new chapel. I remember the older post.

I totally agree with you about the frosted windows. It's not like a exterior-facing celestial room window. Have you done a post on the differences between Fayette, Heritage, and Legacy before? I'm kind of ignorant as to which is which.

Thanks again!

green mormon architect said...

I haven't, but that's a fantastic idea Tod. I will probably also include some of the other recent standard plan examples which are no longer current, like the Cody and Sage. With as much attention as the temples get, the meetinghouses don't get much coverage. Maybe a post can help change that.

Tod Robbins said...

I am extremely excited at this point. :)