Completed in December 2016, Steyn Studio’s Bosjes Chapel has captivated the hearts and creative interest of many since it opened it’s doors in March 2017. The iconic innovation is located on the Bosjes Farm and Vineyard in the Witzenberg District of the Western Cape.
Designed by South-African born architect, Coetzee Steyn, of London based Steyn Studio, the chapel’s architectural design emulates the silhouette of surrounding mountain ranges and pays tribute to the historic Cape Dutch gables that characterise the rural landscapes of the Western Cape.
Steyn shared that the Psalm given by the client inspired the chapel’s poetic design. ‘The inspiration was threefold. The client gave us a bible verse, Psalm 36:7, which particularly touched them.’
‘Then there are the beautiful mountainous surroundings as well as the Cape Dutch architecture of the manor house. Combined it manifested itself architecturally as a structure which ‘floats/ glides’ and has motion, although physically static.’
The chapel was constructed from a slim concrete cast shell. The roof supports itself as each fluid, wavelike section dramatically falls to meet the ground. Expanses of glazing adjoined centrally by a crucifix adorn the chapel at each section where the roof structure rises to a peak. The functional elements have been discretely placed within the buildings plinth or discretely placed in the outer corners of the surrounding garden.
Steyn said the biggest challenge they faced during the project was the construction, methodology and detailing.
‘Something like this had never previously been built in South Africa. Essentially the building has very few details, however getting the detail right as well as the final execution, was of utmost importance to its final success. Even though there was a lot of effort behind it, it needed to look effortless.’
The chapel’s interior is a large and open assembly space created with a simple rectangular plan. Highly polished terrazzo has been used for the flooring, the ceiling is whitewashed and the undulating shape casts an array of shadows that reflects light and changes the chapel’s interior atmosphere throughout the day. The modest palette of materials and colours celebrate the impressive panoramic views of the lush gardens, the vineyard and the majestic mountains beyond.
Steyn said that the completed structure is everything and more it was originally imagined to be. ‘Although I am very pleased with the way it turned out, my favourite feature (or features) of the building are those not necessarily seen on photographs. Perhaps rather experiences than features. Some of these were quite unexpected.’
Photography: Adam Letch