The Martyr Chapel
The Ap.Peter and St.Helen the Martyr Chapel was the result of an innovative design approach.
Located in Pafos, Cyprus, the Apostle Peter and St. Helen the Martyr Chapel was the result of an innovative design approach on a morphologically and structurally constrained building typology, that abandoned traditional design methods, resulting to an exemplary construction.
The chapel typology belongs to the double-aisle vaulted orthodox temples. The building program includes a Narthex, a Nave, a side Aisle, a Sanctuary and a Prothesis. Morphologically, it is inspired by the local orthodox ecclesiastical architecture, while, through a series of innovative building methods and materials, it presents a contemporary example. As such, the entire chapel is formed by extruding a section along a longitudinal axis which results in a legible, lightweight and welcoming form. The east and west sides of the extruded form are left open providing covered spaces filtering daylight and views. The interaction of the extrusion with the programmatic elements of the building creates complex moments and rich spaces within the shell. As such, the side aisle appears as a solid volume that communicates with the central Nave through a series of consecutive arches. On the east side, a semi-cylindrical, self-standing element hosting the sanctuary is inserted in the shell. On the west, vertical louvers, forming the bell-tower, provide shading for the entrance of the chapel while a large 5.5-meter-tall door allows the interior to be merged with the exterior. Finally, the landscape, identified by the almond trees complements the synthesis.
The chapel presented a design challenge as it called for innovation on a morphologically and structurally constrained building typology. The project abandons the traditional design methods by introducing a core collaborative approach within the design team to bridge complexity and affordability. As opposed to the standard design procedures, a body of multi-disciplinary collective knowledge was gathered early on and employed throughout the entire duration of the project. Architecture, structure and cost became parts of an integrated design process which was handled using high-end digital tools since the very early stages of the design. These tools enhanced collaboration between individual disciplines and enabled the development of efficient construction workflows.
In terms of construction technology, the designers integrated existing and reinvented materials with high-end computational tools and methods to introduce new means of realizing complex forms. The team specified the use of Ferrocement, a concrete based thin-wall composite used in the 60’s for constructing thin, free-form shell structures and floating vessels. Its lightweight nature and the formwork-free application rendered it appropriate for the above applications. An exceptionally thin, yet rigid, Ferrocement shell combined with a steel structural frame and reinforced concrete walls was successfully constructed, forming the composite structural system of the chapel. The integrated properties of the composite system enabled a shell thickness of as low as 70 mm, including thermal insulation. The combination with modern construction materials allowed Ferrocement to be re-considered as a competitive alternative in current complex construction applications.
Credits: Architects: Michail Georgiou // Photographs: Charis Solomou // Structural Engineer: Odysseas Georgia // Quantity Surveyor: Danae Kynigou // Mechanical Engineer: Savvas Leonidou // Light Design: Kyriaki Pafitou // Artist: Konstandinos Zannetos // Contractor: A. Ioannou Constructions LTD // Metal Contractor: Makico Metal Contractors LTD // Owner/Sponsor: Petros and Elli Georgiou