Brooks + Scarpa and KZF Design have designed a swooping, lakefront Interfaith Chapel proposal for the University of North Florida’s campus in Jacksonville. The 7,000-square-foot chapel is intended to serve a diverse array of students, faculty, and the surrounding community representing many religious beliefs. It’s unique shape, built with a complex bending wooden lattice, is designed as an allegory of Justice, Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, and Fortitude.
At the top of the chapel’s spire, the wooden lattice is pinched together to form a figure-eight, symbolizing infinity, and the structure itself shades a large skylight that will wash the richly-textured interior walls with soft light. The structure’s white exterior form is built to resemble a flowing wedding gown. Windows are situated to connect the inside with fundamental points of the Chapel’s surroundings such as a nearby lake, garden, and woods and to highlight celestial elements like the Polaris (aka North Star) viewable at nighttime. Two windows are even situated to offer direct views of the rising sun during the winter and summer solstices.
The structure’s unique curvature is made possible by an interlaced wood lamella structural system—originally developed for industrial use due to its durability and long life. Laminated pieces of wood will be joined together at diagonal angles, creating the intricate latticework vault.
The chapel also features energy efficient qualities. By allowing only filtered sunlight to enter the skylight, the roof helps insulate and protect against Florida’s intolerable heat and humidity. The building also includes more subtle energy efficient elements: operable windows offer daylight and ventilation; the building is situated to collect prevailing winds; and sun studies determined orientation of glazing.
And, ultimately, the chapel enforces a deep connection with spiritual, cosmic, and natural life, giving visitors a chance to reflect and wonder about their values and placement in life and on the planet.