Chapel of the Efflorescence
Renovation of an old chapel and rebuilding a new chapel for the spiritual quest (youth).
The VLP has its roots in the Brothers of the Christian Schools and forms an active network that supports schools and other educational organisations, based on the inspiring legacy of Jean-Baptiste De La Salle.
It wants to encourage and support schools to feature. In the headquarters at Groot-Bijgaarden (near Brussels) there was an old chapel with stained glass windows and murals. In the course of the years that space had become a stack space. The VLP wanted to chapel to become a lively and essential part of the organisation.
The initial design question was how the chapel could give form to the
mystery of the Lasallian pedagogic project. The new chapel had to become a metaphor for the way the institute deals with the people: “How can we
transform the unrest rooted in us into a spatial experience that gives the visitors a beatifical, restful and happy feeling that inspires them to leave in a different way?”
The existing chapel was a high colloidal room with visual stories (stained glass windows or murals) on three sides and a recess that sometimes
functioned as abscissa. In the new chapel all these stories are conserved behind shutters so that, at first sight, the new space is a white, stilled
emptiness. The emptiness is an invitation to come to yourself before you are overwhelmed by images and visions of others. The white emptiness is an invitation to work on a new future by trial and error. The shutters can be opened as desired and can bring the old stories again as inspiration. But there are as many empty shutters that can be filled with new stories and images.
The chapel is filled with sand to get a silent, muted space, to ritualize the entering of the room and to offer a large writing and drawing plane. How prudent you may enter, you always leave traces. Visitors are invited to enter barefoot, on one hand, daring them to be vulnerable and on the other hand, relating physically to the environment. Between the white empty space and the space coloured with stories there are many various spaces each with a different orientation, illumination, colour and meaning. The room invites to stillness, reflection, interaction and initiative.
This project was nominated for the Price of the Master Builder 2012.
Tom Callebaut and Cindy Tirry