Chapel of light; chapel of darkness.

Dear friends and family,

Today I want to talk about a specific part of my studio project that relates to what we have been talking about in the systems, sites and buildings class.

This semester in studio we have been designing a monastery in New York city. I know it sounds quite odd-a sacred place in a highly profane city, but being in the monastery studio has been quite an interesting experience for me. For the past weeks, professor Sherman has been talking about light and how architects have to make thoughtful use of it. So recently and decided to explore light in my building.

As part of the monastery program, we have been asked to design a chapel attached to it. For most part of the length of this project, my chapel has been solely – forgive the pun- a soulless floating box. But as we started to talk about the thoughtful use of light in class, I realized that I could not leave my chapel as it was. It had to be something special.

My first idea for the chapel was quite simple and not very different from what my studio mates would do.  It was basically a room with a solid concrete ceiling 3 solid and opaque walls. The fourth wall-the one that faces a urban park- was more permeable:

First Iteration of the Chapel

Chapel External Facade

It was a pretty simple system of panels with different opacities. But it did not feel right for me. I guess what I want to say is that it was not enough. I pushed  the design further and managed to create a more object-like structure; the paneled wall would not only happen on only one of the sides but rather on 2 sides, That way I created a quite symmetrical space:

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