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The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica

The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica

WTA Architecture and Design Studio
Northern Samar, Philippines

The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica

WTA Architecture and Design Studio as Architects

Folded in Prayer Northern Samar is one of the Philippines’ 10 poorest provinces. About 65 percent of its entire population live in the rural areas. Pambujan is a rural town in this province with a population of 32,000. Lacking a proper hostpital, in 2009, the Diocese of Catarman, Northern Samar, appealed to the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica's Priory for assistance in building a mission hospital. Inside the hospital courtyard is a small chapel for the worship and prayers of patients and the sisters. The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica is formed by folding planes that come together as if folded in prayer. As praying hands or a kneeling figure, this abstract form creates a hopeful seeking mood appropriate to the setting. A form that is in fact inspired by the roofs of nearby houses, the Chapel is a familiar space to the locals made intriguing by an unfamiliar scale.

The Chapel Roof is also the walls. Roof and wall are one, and the whole structure is in fact one continuous mass. The wall planes are made of treated abaca fibers called “almacan” wrapped around a lightweight steel structure. The structure itself is a sculptural skeleton of relatively soaring proportions. It rises at the center and tapers to its four corners reaching out to the edges of the courtyard. The entry portal as well as the back of the altar are bordered by a pair of stained glass windows. Creating a mirrored imagery between entry and ascension. As a vital part of every church in this religiously devout Catholic country, the chapel serves as the heart of the entire compound and it is around this prostrate form that the daily activities of the hospital goes on. And as one goes through the hospital or even as one arrives, one will always see the sleek wooden cross pinnacle held up high by the praying hands of the chapel.

In our times of need, we ask God for healing, for guidance, for love, but most importantly, for hope. In the lives of people who experience more misfortunes and suffering than others, hope is necessary to drive them towards a more fulfilling future for themselves and for their children. The St. Scholastica's Mission Hospital brings hope to the town of Pambujan, Northern Samar, as it provides the poor with necessary healthcare for little to no costs. At the heart of the hospital lies the chapel, visible from almost anywhere within the compound. This serves as a reminder that God is our source of hope --the hope of healing and salvation from sickness and from death.

The chapel will take the form of bent plates, folded towards a towering cross, bowing as if in prayer. This form shall remind us to fold in prayer amidst our God in order to give him glory and thanks and to ask him for help during troubling times, for his presence and for hope. We want the chapel project to serves as the escape or healing source of the people. It should celebrate a festive feeling yet having the sense of lightness to attain balance in the user’s emotion. The St. Scholastica’s chapel also focuses on responsive and openness approach, this way, the project doesn’t limit itself with its own but open its walls to its immediate environment.

St. Scholastica’s Mission Hospital Chapel wants to give emphasis to human scale, where in, it shows how architecture reacts to people and how users react with the Architecture. Having a human scaled design concentrates on where a human can reach and where a human can feel the architecture. Having a coherent design gives an expression of a kind of design that is bold and solid. It is consistent with its context and intent, and its main goal. Achieving harmonious environment for the project consider not only itself but also its surrounding. To create a complimenting environment, The St. Scholastica’s Mission Hospital Chapel plays the material of ‘Amacan’ (a woven abaca fibers), stained glass, metal, stone, wood, and with a play of light to have this distinct and strong Filipino character.

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