Le Foyer de Charité Chapel
J&A Architects LTD - Mauritius
A chapel, we believe, should be a serene environment where man and God can connect, undisturbed. Based on this, a few key words given in the competition brief have helped us shape the project: Silence, Beauty, Simplicity and Infinity. Our concept derives from the site analysis of the existing building and its fabric. Bordered by the sea on one end and set within a lush landscape on the other, the site is currently occupied by the chapel and a few other buildings comprising the retreat centre. A prominent axis links the chapel to an outdoor cross which is often used for a spiritual walk. This element is the driving force of our concept and is carried throughout the project. The chapel on first floor is located so that the main entry is in direct alignment with the outdoor cross. The same ideology applies to the roof mounted cross of the new chapel. This bond between the external cross, symbolising the loneliness of Christ in his passion, and the new proposed chapel through the “Chemin de Croix” further accentuates this spiritual path sealed by the orientation of the altar towards the East, the argued direction of prayer. During the design process with a quest for elements tending towards infinity, we were convinced that an asymmetric pitched roof would be the appropriate option. Infinity we thought is our connection to the heavens and therefore God. Hence, the pitched roof rising majestically from the ground on one end and protruding un-stopped at the pitch gives one the impression of ascending the sky, towards the heavenly. The building orientation with one side facing the sea, favours natural ventilation, an important criterion to reduce overheating and running costs. The South Eastern façade is treated with continuous louvers to introduce fresh air from the South East Trade Winds and is protected from harsh wind and rain by the extended roof. The air distribution is further favoured by cross ventilation at ground level through oppositely fixed louvers, and louvers at roof level. A secondary set of polycarbonate louvers are provided at roof level to protect from water ingress during heavy rainfall and to allow natural light in as a remembrance of divine light. This second key element resulted into the staggered pitch roof, which beautifully sits at the opposite end of the cross along our “Chemin de Croix”. The proposed first floor consists of the new chapel seating approximately 200 persons, an attached sacristy and a new toilet facility. The chapel opens up onto a majestic plaza which is the roof of the existing retreat premises on the ground floor. The latter is connected to the plaza via a smooth ramp on account of frequent retreats for the elderly.