HOME OF COMPASSION

PROJECT TYPE: INTERIORS

USE: CIVIC, RELIGIOUS, ACCOMMODATION

LOCATION: ISLAND BAY, WELLINGTON

CLIENT: SISTERS OF COMPASSION

ARCHITECTS: STUDIO PACIFIC / TENNENT BROWN

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 2015-2017

AWARDS: WINNER, SMALL PROJECT ARCHITECTURE CATEGORY, NZIA WELLINGTON ARCHITECTURE AWARDS 2019

A new side chapel with a bespoke new tomb is the final resting place of Mother Suzanne Aubert, founder of the Sisters of Compassion. Mother Aubert died in 1926 after a life dedicated to helping the poor. The chapel is on a site nestled in the hills near the entrance to Island Bay, which has been transformed to create the Suzanne Aubert Heritage Centre.

The new chapel was one of the project’s six stages. It adjoins the main chapel and has a sloping brink roof, rose tinted concrete, bespoke stain glass windows, and a curved slatted ceiling.

LT McGuinness helped to transfer Mother Aubert’s body into the tomb, using a pulley system we had devised. The recess size had been extensively checked in conjunction with consultants and subcontractors, and the stone shroud that covers the tomb was constructed in such a way that the body could be placed inside and the tomb rejoined.

The five other stages of the project included

  • creating a new function and exhibition room where unique artefacts and audio-visual recordings bring Suzanne Aubert’s story to life
  • a new carpark on a previously empty hillside
  • reconfiguring redundant hospital spaces for a new refreshment and office space
  • extensive landscaping; and
  • changing the existing carpark to include water features, paving, planting and canopies.

In the accommodation wing, 20 ensuite rooms and their bathrooms were refurbished as part of upgrading the retreat facilities.