Benteng Tinggi Chapel (Near Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia)

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Benteng Tinggi Chapel is located on the eastern part of Indonesia on an idyllic retreat compound up at the foot of the nearby mountain.  The existing chapel was destroyed but the foundation remains intact and in good condition.  The new chapel is to be built on this existing foundation about 8 meter by 18 meter.  There are a caretaker house, an outbuilding, and an outdoor fire place with chimney nearby that eventually will be renovated and converted to an office building and upgraded restrooms.  The site is surrounded by predominantly Muslim community, requiring sensitivity in external expression of the chapel to alleviate potential tensions.

The design of the chapel is to express God’s omnipotent and personal characteristics.  God is too big for human to comprehend yet He is willing to have personal relationship with them.  His omnipotence overwhelms human being through His great powers and wonders that make them feel frightened, small, unworthy or nothing, but on the other hand, He seeks relationships that is comforting, caring and personal in scale.  This is the core belief of Christian faith.

To express these characters, forced perspective is used to heighten the experience going through the chapel.  Out-of-scale proportion at the entrance is followed by decreasing scale to an intimate setting towards the altar.  The triangular post and beam configuration supporting the skylight is the device for forced perspective guiding one’s experience and procession through the chapel culminating at the altar where the cross is located.

The materials used are local.  Zinc roof, concrete post and beam, and wood framing are familiar materials for local construction.   The post and beam structure are filled with cylindrical bamboo tube squares stacked for exterior walls creating natural cross ventilation common in tropical weather.  Secondary structures such as joists, rafters, and roof sheathing are exposed wood.



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