Chapel Extension at Wells Cathedral, Somerset 2004
Wells Cathedral is a hybrid space. When by the end of the thirteenth century Catholicism had spread unevenly through England and its class society, the local masons who built the Cathedral still carried much of their Pagan ancestry into their work. They created a mix of local pagan characters juxtaposed with more traditional Christian iconography. The Cathedral was also built throughout many centuries, which gave it a rather eclectic (and thus original) dimension in terms of space, form and style.
Following this tradition, the project proposes a hybrid space that is both a chapel and a medical laboratory for experimentation with living scared sculptures. By joining these programmes the project reintroduces an old practice in which theological and medical expertise were developed in parallel within religious institutions.The juxtaposition of these activities thus creates a spatial interface with a symbiotic interdependency for otherwise unsustainable operations.
In the chapel are visible a series of suspended tissue scaffolds and mechanical service devices that move silently between positions. Their movement is slow and ritualistic and with a powerful atmospheric effect, remaining, however, as a separate activity and with little discernable action upon the activities in the chapel.
Sam White studied at the Welsh School of Architecture and The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, where he graduated in 2004. Subsequently he has worked for Michael Hopkins Architects and Knight Architects, most notably being responsible for the delivery of the Stratford TCL bridge and Lochnagar Street bridge.