Colombiere Jesuit Community Residence and Chapel
“The strength of the scheme lies in its positioning and bending along a beautiful lawn, and an internal logic and layering based on site stone walls….the wall becomes the theme, defining enclosure and security. The star of the composition, however, is the chapel: the origami-like “leaves” filter sunlight, creating a breathtaking space worthy of the worship of God. It represents the inspiration of cathedral building at a much smaller scale.”
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s challenge for this project was to create intelligently crafted spaces to house the resident priests’ and brothers’ day-to-day activities, along with a chapel that would serve as a spiritual place for these men of prayer.
The chapel’s design respects the traditions and rituals intrinsic to the Catholic faith and the Jesuit order, without being tied to a conventional vocabulary of construction or past architectural styles. The silent place of meditation and prayer is achieved through a simple palette of stone and wood, brought to life through the interplay of light, space and matter. To endow the chapel with the qualities of a sacred place, a “tree canopy,” crafted out of thin steel plate and ash, collaborates with the sun to produce light of a sublime and divine nature. The canopy weaves a constantly changing tapestry of dappled light, enabling the construction to transcend mere bricks and mortar.
The residence building features a stone entry courtyard and a series of site walls centered around the chapel as the core of the community. Housing an aging population of active and retired Jesuit priests and brothers, the facility has been created using the principles of universal design, with 38 living quarters and fully accessible bathrooms contained within a four-story residential bar. In addition to the chapel, there are dining facilities, a full commercial-grade kitchen, living room, library, administrative offices, meeting rooms, lounges, laundry facilities, and exercise and activity rooms.