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    Rocco Design Architects

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    Rocco Design Architects

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    Rocco Design Architects

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    Rocco Design Architects

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Sky high worship for Hong Kong congregation

Katie Henry
14 Nov 2019

Wesleyan House Methodist Church has moved to a skyscraper in Hong Kong, making the most of the challenging site and providing a serene public space for worshippers in the bustling urban location of the city.

The site is built into a teardrop-shape on the corner of the major four-lane road Queen’s Road East and Kennedy Road. The project has to be built up in order to fit 11,000m² onto an 800m² plot.

The design has created a vertical church that integrates the sanctuary, chapels, activity halls, social service floors and pastoral offices into a tower. The design projects its image as a religious institution by slanting gently from the base to the top and subtly defining its skyline.

The skyscraper church creates unique opportunities for signature spaces to be used for worship. Amazing views from the harbor to the north and the hills to the south can be seen from the top floor of the tower, which creates a unique space that takes in the beauty of the surroundings and optimizes church operations. The main sanctuary sits under a large congregation hall that invites worshippers to come together following a service. On adjacent vertical floors are the church offices and pastoral residences which are easily accessible between them as well as retain distinct identities, both as a place to work and a place to live.

The design of the exterior works as an entry sequence that creates a transition into a peaceful sanctuary from the busy streetscape. The gently curving facade reflects an effect of embracing and flowing, establishing a robust presence that ushers visitors into a public plaza that separates the church from Queen’s Road East, peeling away from the city into the peaceful sanctuary. It acts as a hinge on the intersection that improves pedestrian connectivity over the two roads, creating open sightlines in the dense context and offering a public gathering space amongst the urban density.

There are also multiple spatial entities that lead from the street to the ground floor open space and to the sanctuary, connecting as a trajectory. Upon arrival people are greeted by music from the carillon before passing the historic stone wall and the tree of life. There are inscribed plaques blending through the inside and outside spaces in order to help foster the mood for worship. There is a restrained material and colour palette in the main sanctuary to create a peaceful and solemn worship place. Natural daylight is let in to focus on the altar as well as a backdrop of an eight meter tall solid white wall that is punctuated along by a glazed cross-shaping opening. Sunlight is also softened and diffused into the room through a lightscope about the ceiling.

The building is expected to earn silver Hong Kong BeamPlus sustainability rating as a result of the multiple innovative environmental sustainability features it has. The design of the solid core wall facing east allows the casement windows to minimize heat gain, especially on the west elevation. Daylighting and stunning views have been created in the sky chapel, congregation halls and church offices from large windows on the north-and-south-facing facades. Natural ventilation is also created from cross-breezes made from the buildings orientation.

The new Wesleyan House aims to project a sense of frugality, simplicity and refinement in the hustling junction to as well as embracing the flow of grace and creating a refreshing spiritual oasis in the Wan Chai community.

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