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All Souls Church, Christchurch

Fabricator Nebulite Garden City

Location Christchurch

Systems Pacific Architectural, Atlantic48™, Baltic Curtain Wall, Baltic Flushglaze 106 & 159

Industry Sector Commercial

Architect / Designer Warren and Mahoney

Christchurch’s All Souls Church, in the suburb of Merivale, is a testament to the will of the city and the enduring spirit of its people. It isn’t just an architectural highlight of the new Garden City, but the representation of a difficult journey with a happy ending.

This contemporary place of worship was built on the site of the historic 1926 St Mary’s Merivale, a stone building that was irreparably damaged in the 2010 Christchurch earthquake. Through the combined insurance funds of Merivale’s and St Albans’ Anglican parishes - which have combined into one parish - the institution was able to fund its first new church deciding to move towards a contemporary building to meet modern requirements for worship.

The new All Souls Church, designed by Warren and Mahoney, is a highly recognisable structure featuring a conical chapel encased in white glass. This chapel is designed to provide a new home for stained glass windows from both parishes forming the new church, and to provide a contemplative space for individual prayer or small services. The stained-glass windows are installed close to the glass skin of the chapel, projecting silhouettes and colours from the glass to the exterior at night.

Higgs Construction led the build, with Nebulite Garden City signing on to tackle the complex aluminium joinery required for the conical chapel, as well as for the rest of the building. This was to be a unique project, where no off-the-shelf product could match the specifications of the chapel. Indeed, 32 glass facets would be required, leaning inward at a 10-degree angle.

Additionally, a memorial window was specified in the design that incorporated multiple stained-glass panels recovered from St Mary’s Anglican church and St Matthew’s (the old St Albans parish). These were to be installed in the chapel close to the exterior windows, so that when light shone from within, those passing would be able to see their silhouettes and some of their colour projected onto the white glass.

It was a complex design, but Nebulite Garden City picked it up with enthusiasm - backed by the Technical team and engineers at Altus Window Systems. For the cone, a unique version of the Baltic Curtain Wall (160mm) system was used. This bespoke alteration involved cutting dies and extruding runs for eight new profiles.

Due to the nature of the chapel’s timber glulam and steel frame, a fabrication facility was set up on-site by Nebulite prior to installation. This allowed the team to more accurately account for any variances in the frame’s measurements to match the base structure. The materials were pre-milled at Nebulite, then the final angles and cuts were performed in-situ at St Mary’s.

The glazing for the chapel combines commercial grade low-E glass and opaque white glass to reduce solar gain and allow gentle diffused light to be the principal aspect of this unique space.

As for the rest of the building, Nebulite deployed a mixture of solutions using a number of Altus Window Systems. These included the Pacific Architectural, Atlantic48™ and Baltic Flushglaze 106 & 159 systems. There was one final custom job, though - one corner of the building required a particularly slim look to maximise views of a large tree on the site. To accommodate this, Nebulite designed a custom mullion enhanced with steel stiffening to make it as slim as possible.

All Souls Church opened in November 2018 to the public to be met with pleasure and delight from local community members. Despite being a tricky custom build, the process from briefing to installation was smooth and the results speak for themselves.