A competition for a difficult program, a chapel to support a variety of diverse religious practices, was held by the University of North Florida. A religious shape recognized by one faith, may be irritating for a different religious group to occupy. KZF Design Studio of Orlando along with Brooks + Scarpa Architects of Los Angeles have created a Joint Venture to pursue work in the southeast. Their partnership has produced an inspiring structure for all faiths. This project won a MERIT AWARD from the AIA Orlando chapter this spring. The proposed site for this project is near the entrance to the University of North Florida’s campus in Jacksonville, against an existing pond.
Below is some of the explanation from their entry:
The proposed UNF Interfaith Chapel is designed to be a special place where students and others can slow down their lives, re-focus on their spiritual needs and reflect. At the same time, the Chapel will support a variety of diverse religious services, student ceremonies, weddings, other intimate events, lectures, meditative practices and musical performances.
The building distinguishes itself from most conventionally developed projects in that it incorporates passive and active energy efficient measures and optimize building performance that ensure reduced energy use during all phases of construction and occupancy.
Spirituality is the concept of an ultimate immaterial reality: an inner path enabling a person to discover the deepest value and meanings by which people live. The spiritual experience should yield a more comprehensive self: joining with the human community, nature, the cosmos or the divine realm. These symbols are intended to evoke a sense of wonder where the world comes from, why we are here, and to be moved by values such as beauty and creativity to reveal a meaning or power beyond our tangible world.
The strategy developed for the structural system emerges from the intent to develop a flowing, flexible interior layout shrouded in a gown-like veil. To achieve this intent, a wood lamella truss system is utilized to frame the building. Initially developed for warehouses and other industrial uses as a low-tech structure able to achieve very long spans, wood lamella truss systems have been used for nearly 100 years.
Structural spans and individual wood glue laminated members are connected along a pattern of intersecting diagonal lines to form a framed vaulted roof structure in an egg crate like pattern. This approach to the building structure enables a viable systematic approach to the complex perimeter enclosure.
The Polaris, or North Star, is a historically important navigational and otherworldly star. Because of its position in the sky, no matter where you are in the Northern Hemisphere, if you face north you are facing toward Polaris. This direct connection from the sanctuary’s interior to an important cosmic symbol encourages the viewer to reflect and forge a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the fundamental, yet delicate relationships that exist between themselves, our collective cultures, the natural world and its vital resources.
The UNF Interfaith Chapel should be a symbol of cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religions, beliefs, faiths and spirituality, at both the individual and institutional levels, while simultaneously fostering a sense of community, togetherness and diversity on campus between visitors, students, faculty and staff. Rather than synthesizing new beliefs, the Interfaith Chapel should symbolize an understanding and acceptance of others and their different values.
Here is a link to all the 2014 AIA Awards:
Here is a link to KZF Design Studio’s website:
Here is a link to Brooks + Scarpa’s website: