Ebenezer Chapel will be build in a sloped forest terrain next to Richland Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Chapel will be excavated 15 meters below ground to be totally built from the natural granite rock from the site. The only external visible structure of the Project is a landmark tower that has multiple functions. It holds the chapel bells and also brings light and ventilation to the interior. The main design challenge was how to reach the level of the rock layer creating an experience for visitors to quiet their mind before entering the sacred hollowed space. The main access is at the lowest area of the plot, next to the creek. From there, a continious ramp slopes down along the site and around the space of the Chapel ending to the foyer. This space provides access to the chapel and connection to the exterior for natural light and ventilation.
The position of the Chapel is paralel to the natural slope of the terrain with its main access to the east, as stated in the Bible. The descending ramp wraps up the chapel space creating light and material experiences to prepare the visitor’s eyes and mind for the main space. As the natural light levels decrease the stone presence increases while the corten steel sheets used for contention disappear. Both the ramp and the chapel have no right angles in order to reinforce the importance of the experience of natural materials and light. The Chapel will seat 250 people and above of the Altar, a skylight is placed just below the exterior tower to bring light and ventilation to the interior. One single stone vault embraces the space. The exterior landscaping incorporates different species to have a variety of experiences of color, smell and texture. The Project aims to use the most advanced technology available to allow the space to be free from buildilng technology. Computer modelling will be used to optimize the natural properties of the rock in terms of structure, natural lighting, acoustics and ventilation. The geological studies will be used to create an underground structure built only from the existing stone, to function with natural light and ventilation; and the acoustics properties of a perfectly tuned musical instrument.