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Working Detail: Lumen United Reformed Church by Theis and Khan Architects

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[WORKING DETAIL 11.12.08] Sacred space rooflight

The new conical sacred space penetrates the existing church roof, primarily to receive direct natural light. The rooflight opening is centred between existing concrete portal frames and required the removal of one concrete purlin. The position of the sacred space at floor level is centred on the existing structural portal frame. This meant the cone needed to lean south east towards the nearest available point where the roof could be penetrated. The rooflight utilises a 2.1 x 2.1m fixed double-glazed unit.

It was the largest standard unit available and the most cost-effective solution. The circular opening formed in the existing slatted timber soffit is approximately 250mm wider all round than the top of the cone, to allow light to wash the exterior of its form.Three roof-mounted external spotlights on stalks create an artificial light source for the sacred space in the evenings.

The cone is stopped 100mm short of the inside of the rooflight glass to allow ventilation via the main space. This gap creates a lighting effect within the sacred space when natural daylight fades. With the sacred space unlit and the main church space fully lit, light spills into the top of the cone and creates a subtle corona, much like a solar eclipse.

Patrick Theis, director, Theis and Khan Architects

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