NewLife Anglican Church Oran Park

By Andrew Duffin
public buildings

Marcus Loane Way, Oran Park

By: NBRS+PARTNERS

NewLife Anglican Church, photograph by Stuart Starr.

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

60km south west of Sydney where until recently there were dairy farms and a motor race track is the new Oran Park Town. It is actively ensuring schools, retail, community and recreation facilities are in place to support a population of 25,000.

Oran Park Town has prominently positioned a new a church within a suburban street context, near to houses, schools and retail, right among the people. In an environment that encourages car use, here is a church to which you can walk or cycle. The design focus was to create an inviting church forecourt to be unfenced and extending to the kerb line opening a sense of community ownership. The space’s use extends beyond Sunday gatherings.

What problems did you have to solve?

The main challenge was to create a connected identity for the community.Set in the forecourt is a dynamic 20m high coloured glass tower which terminates on a north south view corridor along Central Avenue and diagonal axis between Oran Park Town centre and the distant heritage Oran Park House. Symbolically the tower's many colours unify the mix of people forming this new community. It is a separate form set apart from the church and floats off the ground, generating a sense of openness and connection with neighbourhood space. People can walk around and under the cross structured tower. It marks an identity for the community. It is a contemporary interpretation of a centuries old campanile set in a village court.

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

A clear coordinated approach directed by an architect centred design established a well resolved design outcome. Thise involved included:

Project Manager                  

Gallagher Jeffs Consulting

Quantity Surveyor               

WT Partnership

Town Planner                      

Development Planning Strategies (DPS)

Traffic Engineer                  

Colston Budd Hunt & Kafes

Acoustic Engineer              

Marshall Day

Structural Engineer            

Demlakian Engineering

Services Engineer              

VOS Group

BCA / PCA                           

Metro Building Certification

Landscape Engineer         

Tract

Civil Engineer                     

LHO               

Builder                                  

Reitsma

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

The value of the project cannot be measured fully against the client requirements which were met and exceeded but the benfit to the whole community of the new Oran Park township. Key is its openness and transparency and positive contribution to the public domain through a dialogue of identity and sense of ownership.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The design takes full advantage of the north facing aspect opening the forecourt and arrival to the north. Along with sunshading and weather protection the building responds appropriately to the idea of shelter. All spaces including the church auditorium enjoy excellent natural light with appropriate glare control. Large glazed sliding panels allow great oppennes and connectivity to the outside environment on weather appropriate days. The church spaces respond to the natural environment in a positive engagement. It is a design that breathes and supports excellent natural light.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The design sets a new transparent tone for ecclesiastical worship centres. It features an open forecourt transition, in contrast to the traditional small portico arrival. The result is a more welcoming building with a strong sense of connectedness to the surrounding township.

The Foyer and Auditorium are light filled, creating clarity around what goes on in church. The church interior is an inspiring, light-filled space with visual connection to the outside, in contrast to the recent trend of blacked out auditorium spaces. The orientation of the worship space to the platform is landscape format rather than traditional portrait. The intention is to bring the congregation closer together, creating a greater connection to the worship leaders and set a greater sense of inclusiveness. 

Other general comments

The NewLife Church is for the whole community, not just for its members. It tells an ancient story and evokes a civic pride and ownership.