Urban Vessels: The redevelopment of Ngaire Avenue Chapel

Zoe McKillop

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The Chapel
The Chapel

New Christian communities typically start as small congregations meeting in domestic or temporary places. As they grow and ministries begin, their architecture adapts to serve the evolving requirements of the community while recalling its origins.

This thesis aims to promote a buildable scheme for Auckland Bible Church while acting as a case study for other urban churches looking to expand.

Ngaire Avenue Bible Church is a 140-year-old congregation. A timber Gospel Hall was erected at 3 Ngaire Avenue by the congregation in 1925, marking their first permanent location. John Lewis’s 1970s cuboid concrete block chapel added seating for 80-100 people, converting the Hall into a multipurpose space. Now serving two congregations, Auckland Bible Church (ABC) and Auckland Japanese Christian Church, it has also taken on the role of a secular community venue. For some years, ABC has been unable to accommodate its congregation and community activities on-site.

Ngaire Avenue Chapel History
The History of Ngaire Avenue Chapel
Fragments and photos
Existing Ngaire Avenue Chapel Photos, Drawings and Models (Scale 1:10)

The thesis explores the typology of central city Christian churches since their inception and explores urban and architectural opportunities to expand. This thesis adapts the existing Ngaire Avenue Chapel and Hall site into its own adjacent parking area and commercial property through fragmentation and reassembly. A continuity of orientation, identity, and materiality is intended to make a new programmatic and social whole.

Site plan

Focused around a semi-public courtyard that responds to this confined semi-industrial site, this proposal allows the congregation to meet on-site while preserving the original modernist chapel and hall. A new courtyard, as in the earliest Christian domus ecclesia, stitches sacred and secular spaces together.

Ground Floor plan
The Entrance (Left) and The Courtyard (Right)
Street Elevation
Sub chapel and Cafe Section
Courtyard Section
Chapel Section
Hall and Sub Chapel Section