Our Lady of Good Counsel Church
- Law Architects
- Matt Harding
- Flynn Silver
The Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel was constructed in the mid 1950s and variously rearranged following the Second Vatican Council. Its years of service were apparent and it was in need of re-vitalisation.
An extensive design and construction period allowed for a more encompassing Architect’s role, closely evolving the vision with the client and then enrolling artists in sympathy with it. The collaboration resulted in a radical transformation of the spaces to fulfil their sacred intent.
The challenge was to balance renewal with a respect for the past – preserving much whilst introducing an uplifting and re-engaging environment.
The extensive design and construction period allowed time to closely evolve the vision with the client, collaborating with Matt Harding and the Flynn brothers as artists, resulting in a radical transformation of the spaces to fulfil their sacred intent. It allows the liturgy to be experienced in both an intimate and personal way and with participation in a large communal space.
The existing building posed practical challenges including inadequate lighting, heating and audio visual capacity. To minimise visual noise, a new underfloor heating system and multiple mode lighting was installed whilst wiring was subtly concealed within existing face brick cavities.
The internal layout has been re-imagined to acknowledge the multiple entries, utilising an undulating form to soften the boundary between priest and parishioner whilst strengthening the many focal points of the liturgy. The overarching bent-wood screen, designed by artist Matt Harding, creates a permeable division between large and small areas of worship.
In collaboration with Matt, the new suite of liturgical furniture balances the lightness and sculptural qualities of timber with the rough and robust hewn bluestone of the altar and font. The whole sits harmoniously within the warmth of the existing brickwork and copper surrounds.
While a Church might be a place of awe and beauty, the Architect’s challenge was to temper the effect of the grand upon the intimate and personal experience of liturgy. It was also to balance renewal with a respect for the past – to preserve much of the familiar and comforting whilst creating an uplifting environment that re-engages parishioners.
This revitalization builds on the strengths of the building – its wonderful proportions, soaring copper ceiling and simplicity. The brief was not to restore the church to its original condition but to renew it for the next 50 years of service.
The solution is many small, subtle interventions, paring back many items participating in the space to quieten the internal ‘noise’, harmonise the elements of worship and let the existing building breathe. A number of original ancillary rooms were removed, allowing for a Gathering Space that then links the Church to the School, bringing light and presence into the nave of the Church.
The intersection of the existing Church and new Gathering Space is treated as a new layer in the history of the church, and is celebrated with copper clad ‘portals’ which both reveal and frame the modified brick openings.
The existing building posed many practical challenges including inadequate lighting, heating and audio visual capacity. In keeping with the desire to minimise visual noise, a new underfloor heating system and multiple mode lighting was installed whilst wiring was subtly concealed within existing face brick cavities.
Project costs were contained by designing minimal new additions to the Church and maximising the capacity and variety of use of the existing and new spaces. Existing elements were re-used including existing stained glass windows & doors, brickwork and copper features.