Design Team: Jann Hurley • Builder: Pukekohe Builders
In 2002, we began to work with the St Patricks Parish on the journey of designing and procuring their new church. The brief was for a new building with echoes of the past that - as well as meeting liturgical requirements - was elegant, welcoming and provided a variety of spaces for the parish community. From the start of the project, the church building committee consulted thoroughly with the parish of St Patrick’s Catholic Church. With a history dating back to 1866, it’s little wonder parishioners were adamant their new church and parish centre would present an uplifting and inspirational atmosphere, while maintaining continuity between the old and the new.
Our goal was to create a refreshing, empowering ambiance that would enthuse parishioners to carry the Word of God out to the world. Lead Architect Jann said of the project "the building must be familiar and welcoming, avoiding any semblance of ostentation". Use of light and curvature of the walls encourage parishioners to move through a ‘welcoming pool of light’, from the port-cochère, where congregation are able to alight under cover, through the foyer and to the main axis of the church.
The complex required an atmosphere which creates a sanctum in the main body of the church, which is used for weekly mass and for large weekday services, with a smaller, more reflective space for the day chapel. Other gathering areas of various sizes allow parish groups to meet within the complex. The use of honed block and tiled floors create a feeling of solidity and grounding, while the intricate ceiling beautifully constructed of Tasmanian Oak and the pews in the same timber bring a feeling of warmth.
The new foyer offers spaces for hospitality and social interaction before and after church services, out of the prevailing winds. The foyer provides a link between the refurbished church hall, the services areas and the new church. Blending the new structure’s steep-pitched roof with that of the existing low-pitched church hall and the linking foyer was a major challenge. The result is a well proportioned terrace of roof planes, capping four distinct spaces. Observers on the roadside are left in no doubt that they are looking at a church, which is both spectacular and unpretentious.
A light, neutral colour palette sets off the restored stations of the cross located between the block columns. The very heavy marble altar was salvaged from the old building, and the retained simple timber cross is the focus of the axis in the main worship space. Windows located high on the walls, delineated by a soldier course of block work placed just under the roofline, ensure the congregation’s view is focused on the altar, not on what might be going on in the carpark, while these windows, together with a skilfully located skylight, create a naturally well-lit "halo" within the interior. The placement of the windows has makes the interior bright and transcendent and achieves the clients’ requirements of a reflective and uplifting space.
The high standard of the masonry and timber workmanship in the building is impressive. Materials selected were common domestic materials, used on a grander scale. On the exterior, red brick and Colorsteel roofing visually tie the red-bricked walls of the hall, the new church complex and the adjoining Historic Trust-preserved Presbytery into one congruous site.
The new complex officially opened in February of 2011.