Wesleyan House by Rocco Design Architects | THE PLAN
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Wesleyan House

Methodist International Church

Rocco Design Architects Associates

Wesleyan House by Rocco Design Architects | THE PLAN

The Wesleyan House Methodist church embraces a challenging site in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The building provides a serene sanctuary space for worshippers in this bustling location and enriches the surrounding urban fabric. The project stands on a teardrop-shaped site at the corner of Queen's Road East - a major four-lane road - and Kennedy Road. The site itself is tight; indeed, the 11,000 sq. m-program needs to fit on an 800 sq. m-plot, inevitably forcing the building to grow upwards. 
As such, the design creates a vertical church, integrating the sanctuary, chapels, activity halls, social service floors, and pastoral offices into a tower. The Wesleyan House church defines its skyline by slanting gently and subtly from the base to the top to project its image as a religious institution.
The resulting skyscraper church offers unique opportunities to create signature spaces for worship. The sky chapel on the top floor of the tower boasts sweeping views of the harbor to the north and the hills to the south, creating a unique space that takes advantage of the beauty of the surroundings. Carefully considered adjacencies optimize church operations. A large congregation hall sits above the main sanctuary, inviting worshippers to come together after the service. Church offices and pastoral residences sit on adjacent vertical floors, creating easy access between them while retaining distinct identities: a place to work on the one hand and a place to live on the other.
The exterior design creates an entry sequence shifting from the busy streetscape to the peaceful sanctuary within. A gently curving façade manifests the notion of embracing and flowing, creating a robust presence on Queen's Road East while ushering visitors into a public plaza that separates the church from the street and peels away to transition from the city towards the peaceful sanctuary. Set on an intersection, it acts as a hinge that improves pedestrian connectivity between the two roads, creates open sightlines in the dense context, and offers a much needed public gathering space. 
Various spatial entities also connect as a trajectory, leading from the street to the ground floor open space and to the sanctuary. People arrive greeted by the music from the carillon, pass by the historic stone wall - the tree of life - and the inscribed plaques through a blending of inside and outside spaces that helps to foster their mood for worship. The main sanctuary has a restrained material and color palette. To create a peaceful and solemn worship place, natural daylight focuses on the altar with a backdrop of an 8 m-tall wall in pure solid white, punctuated along by a glazed cross-shaped opening. The light scope above the ceiling softens and diffuses the sunlight onto the altar.
The building - which employs several innovative environmental sustainability features - is expected to earn silver Hong Kong BeamPlus sustainability rating. With a solid core wall facing east, the design opts for casement windows instead of a curtain wall to minimize heat gain, particularly on the west elevation. Large windows on the north- and south-facing façades maximize daylighting and views in the sky chapel, congregation halls and church offices. The orientation of the building creates cross-breezes in the residences, offering natural ventilation. 
Standing at a hustling junction, the new church intends to project a sense of frugality, simplicity and refinement, symbolizing the embrace and flow of grace while creating a refreshing spiritual oasis for the Wan Chai community.

Location: Hong Kong
Client: The Methodist Church, Hong Kong
Completion: 2018
Gross Floor Area: 11,000 m2 
Architects: Rocco Design Architects Associates
Design Team: Rocco Yim, CM Chan, Rebecca Chung, Freddie Hai, Charles Kung, Chu Yim Kwan, Adrian Kwan

Photography: © Rocco Design Architects Associates, courtesy Rocco Design Architects Associates

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