Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Futuna Chapel - John Scott (Karori, Wellington)

I've mentioned this building before, but blogger Well Urban sent me to a new site with photographer Gavin Woodward's superb (but small) pics so you lot can get some idea of why it is so special. Given its enclosure these days by townhouses (and worse ignominies just a few short years ago), it's difficult to imagine it now as the spiritual retreat it was when built.

It's one of the most delightful small buildings in the country -- in fact it's probably one of the most delightful buildings in the country full stop -- and I say that as someone who is not a religious person (in case you hadn't already guessed) but this building gives perhaps a sense of the religious feeling at its best. Peaceful. Contemplative. Worldly.

Its simply-developed but suitably mysterious roof geometry shelters a perfectly scaled space inside, and allows light (beautifully modulated by the stained glass) to paint the thick, roughcast protecting walls. It is a space in which one feels protected, and can feel reborn. It is a masterpiece.

Now, I should also tell you that the website that hosts these photos, the Friends of Futuna, is trying to raise money to buy it.
The intention of the Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust is to conserve the building, and to make it available on a regulated basis to the public now and into the future.

Essentially, the Friends Trust sees the Chapel as a spiritual and architectural retreat, and a home and display place for the John Scott architectural archive. In addition, the building can become a place for lectures and exhibitions, musical and artistic performances and other events in keeping with the nature of the building.

If you have the money to help, this really is a good cause: you will be helping to preserve a work of genius. John Scott was one of New Zealand's very best architects (though often inconsistent) , and this building is without a doubt his greatest achievement -- it is genuinely world class. Think about it.

And if you're in Karori pay a visit, and do try and stay a while.

Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust
Chapel of Futuna - John Scott Architect
Inside Job - Well Urban

Architecture, New Zealand, Wellington


  1. Yeesh. I'm no architect but one thing I hate are alternative church designs - especially the horrible 70's style ones charaterised by right angle triangles - no doubt there is a technical name for the type, but I'm sure you know what I mean. At least it's predominantly wood instead of corrugated iron and perspex.

    Then again, I'm a fan of techno-gothic cantilevered steel girder and tinted glass, so what do I know :D

  2. wow, i think it is incredibly beautiful. it has an awkwardness that is totally human, and the light and space look wonderful. not an architect nor a churchgoer but man it would make an incredible painting studio!!!!!


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