St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Seddon Street, Pukekohe
Designers: Jann Hurley Architects
Project Architect: Jann Hurley
Construction Period: 12 months
The project involved demolition of the existing church and construction of a new church interconnected with an existing hall. The external cladding is brick with honed block columns and cedar soffits. The roof is coloursteel with secret internal gutters. The ceiling was a raking Tasmanian Oak sarked ceiling. The interior featured curved internal cells and glazing. The marble altar was lifted into position before the roof was completed. Masses were conducted in the hall throughout the construction period.
Category: Tourism and Leisure Project
Blending the new with the old was an essential aspect of the project architect Jann Hurley undertook in designing Pukekohe’s new church complex.
Blending the new structure’s steep-pitched roof with that of the existing low-pitched church hall and the linking foyer was a major challenge. The result is a wellproportioned terrace of roof planes, capping four distinct spaces. Observers on the roadside are left in no doubt that they are looking at a church, which is both spectacular and unpretentious.
From the start of the project, the church building committee consulted thoroughly with the parish of St Patrick’s Catholic Church. With a history dating back to 1866, it’s little wonder parishioners were adamant their new church and parish centre would present an uplifting and inspirational atmosphere, while maintaining continuity between the old and the new.
While it was accepted that parishioners would find many features in the new complex were neither familiar nor traditional, it was also agreed that they should feel at home as soon as they moved from their old building into the new.
To be both comforting and comfortable, echoes of the past were created by using the cross, altar, tabernacle and Stations of the Cross from the original church and by opting for pews for the seating, to keep a more traditional feel and make use of the visual warmth of the timber material.
Adding to the sense of homeliness the kitchen and ablutions areas were kept in the same location with the refurbishment of the existing hall.
While plans for the new church buildings evolved over more than a decade, several aspects remained constant. Importantly, parishioners wanted an airy, cathedral-like spaciousness, with height through the centre aisle to focus on the altar.
Jann Hurley’s goal was to create a refreshing, empowering ambiance that would enthuse parishioners to carry the Word of God out to the world. She felt the building must be familiar and welcoming, avoiding any semblance of ostentation. She used light and curvature of the walls to move people through a ‘welcoming pool of light’, from the port-cochère, where passengers are able to alight under cover, through the foyer and to the main axis of the church.
Light is an important feature of the complex. Windows located high on the walls, delineated by a soldier course placed just under the roofline, ensure the congregation’s view is focused on the altar, not on what might be going on in the carpark, while these windows, together with a skilfully located skylight, create a naturally well-lit interior. Jann considers the placement of the windows has made the interior even lighter than she’d expected and feels this achieves her clients’ requirements.
Linking the existing hall with the new building, the foyer has been designed to accommodate additional seating for large church services and also to meet the parish’s wish to see the area used as a space of interaction before and after services, for cups of tea and chat.
Her brief covered not only the design, functionality and accessibility of the interior - the foyer, linking church and hall; the sacred space; the service areas; and the overall artistic aspects, but also Jann had an eye on how the outside of the complex would impact on the area.
She used red brick for the soldier course and red in the roof colour to visually tie the red-bricked walls of the hall, and the new church and the adjoining Historic Trust-preserved presbytery into one complex.
However, for the passer-by, it’s the remarkable juxtaposition of the roof planes that catches the eye.
Mike Lieshout and his team from Pukekohe Builders Ltd. were responsible for interpreting Jann’s design and constructing the complex. The roofing was in the hands of Anthony Stoppard of A Stoppard Roofing, contracted to Franklin Long Roofing, specialists in the supply and manufacture COLORSTEEL® roofing products.
For Anthony, working around the other tradesmen meant his team of six were juggling tasks to complete jobs in line with deadline-driven builders and where they next needed to work. In some instances Anthony’s men had to reverse the normal procedure, laying the flashing before the roofing iron, to fit in with the other tradesmen.
“We were constantly challenged to think outside the square,” said Anthony, “while also working within compliance codes, with particular regard to E2, the building code clause covering external moisture.”
Always an issue when working on any roof, safety concern is increasingly important as the pitch steepens.
“We used looped safety mesh and wore safety harnesses,” noted Anthony, “but most of all, we used our brains. Commonsense is an essential ingredient in the roofing industry.”
The logistics involved were challenging: not only did the roofers have to make sure hi-reach equipment was on hand to get the long run COLORSTEEL® up to the roofing framework, but Anthony also had to ensure product to the precise measurements would be available when needed at Franklin Long Roofing. “We weren’t their only customer and couldn’t take the supply for granted. We had to work in closely with the builders and progressively order our requirements as we needed the product.”
The high standard of the masonry and timber workmanship in the building is impressive. Materials selected were common domestic materials, used on a grander scale.
Construction spanned just over a year and included refurbishing the hall and then creating the foyer linking the old with the new. While experienced in steep roofed construction, having re-developed Waiuku’s A-Framed St Andrews Church, Mike Lieshout said St Patrick’s had the added tricky challenge of requiring Swiss gables.
Commenting on the interior’s spacious airiness he likened the roof to a halo, a separate structure floating above the band of windows, believing this feature brings an added spiritual element to this sacred space.
Back on the ground, though, dealing with variable roof lines while standardising floor levels was critical. “Tying the separate structures back in was definitely challenging,” he conceded. “When you remember the presbytery is a listed building under the Historic Places Trust, while the church itself is brand new, blending the complex to look right has been an achievement we’re all proud of.
“St Patrick’s is unmistakably a church.”
(Above content from: Metal Roofing Manufacturers website.)
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St Patrick's Church, Pukekohe
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