Chapel of Light


Vaal Driehoek Technikon Chapel of Light: Vanderbijlpark South Africa 2006



Team: Chris Wilkinson, Morne Pienaar (project architect), Henri Comrie*

Client: Vaal University of Technology

The widely published chapel was designed as a multi-denominational facility. The site is located on the fringes of a highly disjointed, low-density campus. The design response was for the chapel to create its own spatial anchors and sense of enclosure.  It does this by extending walls into the landscape and establishing adjacent, open-to-sky walled courts that mediate between inside and out, in the African tradition.

The section of the modest, affordable structure comprising a heavy brick base capped by a floating, virtually flat roof was influenced by a preceding, un-built project for a visitors centre at the Union Buildings (click here to view) in Pretoria. The use of white-rendered and top-lit internal wall surfaces and the spatial gravitas of thick, u-shaped external walls are influenced by House Comrie here to view) which was in turn influenced by Louis Kahn’s Escherik House in Philadelphia and by Carlo Scarpa’s top lit Canova Plastercast Gallery.

*Note: This project precedes the establishment of URBA and was completed within the practice Comrie Wilkinson Architects and Urban Designers. Published here with the consent of Chris Wilkinson.