Bishop Edward King Chapel, is a small temple located in Cuddeston, a rural area south of Oxford, UK. Designed by Níall McLaughlin, architecture studio, it has been built after winning the 2009 RIBA competition, under the proposal to design a new chapel for the Ripon Theological College. The clients were the school itself and a small nuns congregation residents of the city.It can be said that Bishop Edward King Chapel, is developed and divided in two parts; The earthly and the heavenly. In the project this is designed with a central part, that functions as a main floor, destined to meeting and communion moments. On the other hand a structure of delicate wooden ribs rises towards the treetops to capture sunlight.
This building relates the earth and the heavenly aspect,with its users through a natural metaphor. A column succession that look like branches in the sky, a space bathed in light, which gives a serenity sensation when it blends with the clarity and whiteness of its materials. The criss-cross design of its structure shows a variation of the sunlight’s entrance according to the day hours. This generates a natural and dinamic illumination in the Chapel.
Bishop Edward King Chapel grows from the ground, like the trunks of the trees approaching the rays of light.
The project has an initial inspiration, as its authors explain, which is born from the word “nave” in the Seamus Heaney poem “Lightenings viii”. Where it relates the church interior with the idea of the origin of the ships, linking a mythical-religious aspect to the project discourse.
However, another aspect seems more evident when analyzing the project; its environment. The existence of a beech tree, at the top of a hill, facing University buildings as well as a circumference of trees between valleys compose the landscape. It is understandable that the original ideas from Bishop Edward King Chapel is directly related to this place, and that the building develops resembling to it.
It can be said that this building is created in the image and likeness with its surroundings, bringing its users an idea of faith more communitarian and accessible. The architects of the Bishop Edward King Chapel had designed this building with a more minimalist look, purifying the space of ornaments to reach its true essence. To find in the design, a space that communicates, with simplicity and sensitivity, an ideal of emancipation.