St Margaret's College Chapel and Gymnasium
Like many Christchurch schools, the Canterbury Earthquakes took a massive toll on St Margaret’s College with the school losing 80% of its facilities including both their gymnasium and chapel. In an effort to consolidate the campus and leverage efficiencies, the decision was made to rebuild the gymnasium, chapel, music classrooms and associated facilities together in onebuilding.
The 2900m2 proposal sits at the centre of the campus, constricted on all sides at the time of construction by temporary and existing buildings. To both facilitate access and create a generous space in its own right, the proposal is structured around a central atrium acting as Chapel foyer, informal teaching space and highly popular lunchtime haunt. Internally, this space connects all the spaces together, while at a broader level it begins to set up a framework for the rebuilding of the surroundingcampus.
In the usual conundrum of modern auditoria, the 700 seat chapel was not just a chapel and was also intended to function as a black box theatre leading to competing desires for a functional black box versus a spiritual chapel space. The resulting chapel balances both these requirements to create a light filled sculptural chapel that is equally at ease hosting the annual stage performances with up to 50 performers on stage. In addition, despite its large capacity, the theatre-in-the-round configuration creates a very intimate setting in contrast to similar sized venues around thecountry.
The adjacent gymnasium is designed to meet the needs of the College’s sporting and P.E. requirements as well as being able to be used by community groups and as a competition standard netball training facility. The gym is structured around a two-storey spine of support spaces and naturally lit by high level clerestoryglazing.
Despite arising from adversity, the building of the new Gym-Chapel at St Margaret’s College has created a facility that will benefit both College and wider community for years to come and help shape the face of St Margaret’s College as the surrounding campus isrebuilt.