St Barnabas church and adjacent community hall, located on Sydney’s busy Broadway, were destroyed by fire in May 2006. A Sydney institution for over 145 years, efforts to rebuild the church began almost immediately. The architecture of the new church complex seeks to respond to the qualities and opportunity of this special site, and equally importantly, to the great sense of openness, welcoming and joy that characterises St Barnabas.
The new church offers a peaceful oasis of gathering and worship within the busy noise of the city. It provides a balance of open courtyard, landscaped gardens, informal and formal, fixed and flexible spaces.
The gentle rising curved volumes of the worship space characterise and focus the appearance of the church in the city. The worship space, with its folding floor that wraps up around the congregation and opens up to soft cloud-like ceilings, is conceived like an open-hand under the sky; a warm, protective, generous and light-fill space. Complementing the worship space is the counter-curved form of the foyer and social-heart that rises in a gesture of welcome and invitation to the central landscaped courtyard.
The new St Barnabas Church fulfils the principles of sustainable design through an approach which aligns closely with its brief. A limited budget and the parish’s desire for simplicity and avoidance of overly ritualised worship led to a building with a limited palette of prosaic materials made reverential through form and light. The brief also required a building which could achieve the longevity appropriate for a church with minimal maintenance and simplicity of management, thus preventing a building with too many active environmental systems. In an area highly prone to graffiti and adjacent to student housing, these criteria were crucial in material selection. The building’s design uses passive measures to take advantage of the site’s orientation with no openings to the west and shaded / double glazed fenestration to the east.
Location: Sydney, AU