Bosjes Chapel

Steyn Studio

Architects: Steyn Studio
Project architects: TV3 Architects
Location: Bosjes Farm, Witzenberg District, Western Cape, South Africa
Gross floor area: 430 sqm
Year: 2013 - December 2016
Photography: Adam Letch

The new chapel, set within a vineyard in South Africa, is designed by South African born Coetzee Steyn of London-based Steyn Studio. Its serene sculptural form emulates the silhouette of surrounding mountain ranges, paying tribute to the historic Cape Dutch gables dotting the rural landscapes of the Western Cape. Constructed from a slim concrete cast shell, the roof supports itself as each undulation dramatically falls to meet the ground. Where each wave of the roof structure rises to a peak, expanses of glazing adjoined centrally by a crucifix adorn the façade.

Masterplan

Drawing poetic inspiration from Psalm 36:7, the crisp white form is conceived as a lightweight and dynamic structure which appears to float within the valley. A reflective pond emphasises the apparent weightlessness of the structure. Elevated upon a plinth, the chapel rises from the flat land it sits upon, providing a hierarchical focal point within its surroundings. New planting, including a vineyard and pomegranate orchard, create a lush green oasis on the otherwise exposed site.

Inside, a large and open assembly space is created within a simple rectangular plan. Highly polished terazzo floors reflect light internally. The undulating whitewashed ceiling casts an array of shadows which dance within the volume as light levels change throughout the day. This modest palette of materials creates a neutral background to the impressive framed views of the vineyard and mountains beyond.

In order to keep the structural form of the roof and assembly space pure, other elements of the building’s functional programme are either hidden within the plinth or discretely within the outer corners of the surrounding garden.

Inspired by the simplicity of the Moravian Mission Stations established on Cape Dutch farms in the 19th century, the chapel lacks a spire – relinquishing a sense of significance in relation to its impressive natural surroundings.

Plans

Sections

An open embrace which invites people in, the chapel is also a space that extends outwards into the valley and mountains beyond, raising the awareness of God’s creation in the immediate environment.


Furniture design: Liam Mooney Studio
Contractor: Longworth & Faul
Structural engineer: Henry Fagan & Partners
Mechanical & electrical engineer: Solution Station
Quantity surveyor: De Leeuw
Planning consultant: Ron Brunings
Landscape architect: CNdV Landscape Architects
Heritage consultants: Graham Jacobs, Elzet Albertyn & Lize Malan