Project's Summary

The Martin House children's hospice in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, has been a place of solace and support for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families since it opened in 1987. Over the years, the hospice has undergone various expansions and improvements, including the addition of Whitby Lodge, a separate unit for teenagers and young people. However, this expansion meant the loss of the hospice's original chapel, prompting the need for a replacement.

Wildblood Macdonald, an architectural studio, was entrusted with the task of designing a new chapel that would provide a peaceful sanctuary within the bustling hospice environment. The chosen location within the hospice's garden, surrounded by mature trees and greenery, inspired the decision to create a building that would harmonize with its natural surroundings. Rather than a conventional structure, the architects opted for strong sculptural forms and enduring materials that would seamlessly blend into the landscape.

The concept of a "boundary wall" became the driving force behind the design. The idea was for visitors to enter the chapel by passing through a curving dry-stone wall, symbolizing a transition from the busyness of the hospice to a serene garden setting. For some, it could represent a step away from the demands of everyday life, while for others, it could signify the journey from life to an afterlife filled with joy.

The chosen site for the chapel was carefully selected, situated farthest from the main buildings and play areas to maximize tranquility. From the noisy surroundings, only a glass door within the curved wall is visible, hinting at the hidden beauty beyond. Inside the chapel, glass and timber enclose the main space, intentionally contrasting with the limestone walling. This design allows visitors to enjoy the peaceful view of a wild garden and mature trees, completely disconnected from the bustling activity of the hospice.

The construction of the chapel involved the use of specialist skills, particularly in the dry-stone walling and copper roofing. These details contribute to the overall charm and appeal of the building, making it a truly delightful and serene space within the Martin House children's hospice.

The Martin House Chapel project showcases the thoughtful and sensitive approach of Wildblood Macdonald in creating a place of calm and tranquility. By blending strong sculptural forms and enduring materials with the beauty of the surrounding landscape, the architects have successfully provided a much-needed sanctuary for reflection and prayer amid the busy environment of the hospice.

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