05 Nov Apostle Peter + St Helen the Martyr Chapel – Pafos 2015 by members of HUB design platform
The project has been realized by a multidisciplinary design team of young self-employed professionals, hosted @ HUB design platform. 50% private 50% EU funded, HUB is operating since 2013 as a non-profit organization aiming at providing physical and virtual services to designers, concentrating in the construction industry. As such formal and informal collaborations emerge depending on the type, size and needs of every individual project. Among others, core philosophy of the prototypical work environment is the seamless sharing of knowledge which yields direct benefits to every collaborative project. HUB involves apart from the co-working space, a 3D printing fabrication facility and a training center focusing on high-end CAD software. Technology presents another essential characteristic of the space and most members embrace digital design and fabrication as the means to facilitate design and construction process. Finally, research becomes integral part of every project’s workflow and eventually a competitive advantage towards reducing construction costs while maintaining design intent.
The chapel presented a design challenge as it called for innovation on a morphologically and structurally constrained building typology. The project abandons the traditional design methods by introducing a core collaborative approach within the design team to bridge complexity and affordability. As opposed to the standard design procedures, a body of multi-disciplinary collective knowledge was gathered early on and employed throughout the entire duration of the project. Architecture, structure and cost became parts of an integrated design process which was handled using high-end digital tools since the very early stages of the design. These tools enhanced collaboration between individual disciplines and enabled the development of efficient construction workflows.
The chapel typology belongs to the double-aisle vaulted orthodox temples. The building program includes a Narthex, a Nave, a side Aisle, a Sanctuary and a Prothesis. Morphologically, it is inspired by the local orthodox ecclesiastical architecture, while, through a series of innovative building methods and materials, it presents a contemporary example. As such, the entire chapel is formed by extruding a section along a longitudinal axis which results in a legible, lightweight and welcoming form. The east and west sides of the extruded form are left open providing covered spaces filtering daylight and views. The interaction of the extrusion with the programmatic elements of the building creates complex moments and rich spaces within the shell. As such, the side aisle appears as a solid volume that communicates with the central Nave through a series of consecutive arches. On the east side, a semi-cylindrical, self-standing element hosting the sanctuary is inserted in the shell. On the west, vertical louvers, forming the bell-tower, provide shading for the entrance of the chapel while a large 5.5-meter-tall door allows the interior to be merged with the exterior. Finally, the landscape, identified by the almond trees complements the synthesis.
Despite the small scale, the chapel manages to incorporate a series of energy-saving strategies that enhance its energy performance and thermal comfort particularly during the extended Cypriot summer period (April – September). Despite the orientation been fixed by the typology of Orthodox Temples, a series of measures have been taken to enhance passive cooling. There are no openings in the south or north and the building is recessed and shaded by the extruded shell in the East and West. East is further blocked by the sanctuary whereas the exposed west side is well shaded by vertical louvers forming the bell tower. Designing for Paphos, with predominant winds being from the west, Cross ventilation and Stack effect became important allies for achieving an effective passive cooling of the building. As such a set of very high narrow windows (0.3 x 4.5m), in the east and west facades provide enough air flow and circulation throughout the day and night. To further minimize carbon footprint, local materials have been used wherever possible and low energy consumption lighting (LED) has been implemented. The extremely thin Ferrocement shell (70mm) which forms the entire building provided a U-value of 0.61W/m²K which meets the standards of Cyprus Energy Requirements (<0.72W/m²K). The building is currently operating without any mechanical cooling equipment which is very rare for the eastern Mediterranean climate.
In terms of construction, the designers integrated existing and reinvented materials with high-end computational tools and methods to introduce new means of realizing complex forms.
The team specified the use of Ferrocement, a concrete based thin-wall composite used in the 60’s for constructing thin, free-form shell structures and floating vessels. Its lightweight nature and the formwork-free application rendered it appropriate for the above applications. Despite its significant features, Ferrocement has been surpassed by modern construction methods and materials, mainly due to its labor-intensive nature and the difficulty to be incorporated in modern (yet conservative) Building Regulations and Codes of Standards. As such, Ferrocement had been left aside and would only be utilized in low-expertise, non-structural applications for quite a long time. Understanding the potential of the material, the design team proposed the modernization of the technique in order to be applied in the construction of the Chapel. The constructability and capacity of Ferocement were tested locally with a series of lab and field tests, revealing its advantageous properties. The material featured high capacity and durability combined with high flexibility in free-form adaptation. The disadvantage of labor intensive application was mitigated by the use of contemporary digital practices presenting precision and cost benefits. An exceptionally thin, yet rigid, Ferrocement shell combined with a steel structural frame and reinforced concrete walls was successfully constructed, forming the composite structural system of the chapel. The integrated properties of the composite system enabled a shell thickness of as low as 70 mm, including thermal insulation. The combination with modern construction materials allowed Ferrocement to be re-considered as a competitive alternative in current complex construction applications.
Digital design tools and methods enabled a seamless collaboration both internally (within the design team) and externally (with the contractors). A bi-directional computational definition associated structural simulations, construction details, cost and CAD/CAM information. Consequently, most of the communication was performed digitally, eliminating errors, reducing cost and increasing design and construction speed. In addition, investing in digital fabrication enabled the team to push for higher finishing quality while remaining within budget. As such, formwork parts, a range of building elements, lighting fixtures and even fixed furniture were developed and sent for fabrication directly from the design team, facilitating complex construction tasks.
Architect: Michail Georgiou (www.parametricdesign.net)
Architectural Design: Michail Georgiou, Theresa Kwok
Structural Design: Odysseas Georgiou (www.odysseasgeorgiou.com)
Quantity Surveyor: Danae Kynigou
Mechanical Engineer: Savvas Leonidou
Lighting Design: Kyriaki Pafitou
Artist: Konstandinos Zannetos
Photographs: Charis Solomou (https://500px.com/charisarch)
Figures and CS Photographs: Michalis Georgiou and Odysseas Georgiou
Video Editing: Stylianos Constantinou
Contractor: A. Ioannou Constructions LTD
Metal Contractor: Makico Metal Contractors LTD
Owner/Sponsor: Petros and Elli Georgiou