Bishop Edward King Chapel, Ripon College, Cuddesdon.
Once again our Art and Design Group has lived up to its founding aim of introducing members to examples of modern architecture, design and craftsmanship: this Chapel was brilliantly conceived and built to the highest standards.
There were two clients who commissioned the Chapel: Ripon College, which trains up to 250 students for the clergy in the Church of England; and, the Sisters of St John Baptist and the Good Shepherd, an Order of Nuns, who are based at the college and for whom the chapel must be a very precious place of worship. The commission was awarded to Niall McLaughlin Architects in 2009, the building was completed eighteen months later and in 2013 the Chapel was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize.
The College sits on a hill top with views across Oxfordshire towards Garsington. The college buildings, designed by G.E.Street some 160 years ago, were built for an Anglican seminary: Niall's design for the Chapel complements the locally quarried stone of the Victorian buildings and, for me, succeeds in reflecting the tranquility and rustling peacefulness of the trees at the centre of the college.
The Chapel is elliptical in shape, rising to a height of 9.8m placing the clerestory windows at the height of the ancient beech tree and surrounding trees.
The base of the Chapel walls are of hand-cut ashlar blocks, similar in colour to the old College buildings, and surmounted by quite dramatic dog-toothed, curving Clipsham stonework.
Each stone is handcut, smooth on one face and rough-cut on the other to give what was described as a basket-weave effect. The roof is supported by clerestory windows, encircling the high interior.
As we wandered around the Chapel you could sense the awe of ADG members at the pervading light, the polished smooth flooring, the gently curving ash benches and the layout of the Chapel with an ambulatory.
You could see ADG members in a sort of collective feel of the white stained glulam columns, rising like trees and branches to support the latticework of the roof of the nave.
I noticed the personal touch in the small horseshoe-shaped prayer room for the Sisters, with space beneath the seats for the boxes, each with a name of one of the Sisters.
Good craftsmanship was on display everywhere.