WTA stained glass and abaca chapel up for WAF Color prize

A play of light and vernacular materials uplift visitors’ spirits in this humble mission hospital chapel

  • October 20, 2017

  • Images and text courtesy of WTA Architecture and Design Studio

The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica by WTA Architecture and Design Studio is shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival 2017 under the Religion – Completed and Best Use of Color categories.

Northern Samar is one of the Philippines’ top 10 poorest provinces. About 65 percent of its population live in rural areas. With a population of 32,000, Pambujan is one such town. Moreover, it lacked a proper hospital. In 2009, the Diocese of Catarman, Northern Samar, appealed to the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica’s Priory for assistance in building a mission hospital. WTA Architecture and Design Studio took on the project.

WTA St Scho chapel entrance

In the hospital courtyard is a small chapel for the sisters and patients. The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica is formed by planes that come together as if they were folded in prayer. Like praying hands or a kneeling figure, this abstract form creates a mood of hope and spiritual seeking appropriate for the setting. The form is, in fact, inspired by the roofs of nearby houses making the chapel resonate with the locals and intriguing them with the unfamiliar scale.

READ MORE: Villa Marina: The WAF-approved Neo-Bahay na Bato

The chapel’s roof is also its walls. Roof and walls are one, and so the structure is one continuous mass. The wall planes are made of treated abaca fibers called almacan, wrapped around a lightweight steel structure. The structure is a sculptural skeleton of relatively soaring proportions, rising to the center and tapering to four corners reaching out to the edges of the courtyard. The entry portal as well as the back of the altar are bordered by a pair of stained glass windows, creating a mirrored imagery of entry and ascension.

The Philippines is a devout Catholic country making chapels and other places for contemplation part of a person’s weekly, if not daily, routine. The Chapel of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica serves as the heart of the mission hospital compound. Around this prostrate form, the bustling activities of the hospital goes on. And as one goes through the hospital or even as one arrives, the sleek wooden cross can be seen held up high by the praying hands of the chapel.

WTA Architecture and Design Studio has two more projects shortlisted in this year’s World Architecture Festival, namely El Museo del Prado en Filipinas in the Display Category and One Valenzuela Mall in the Shopping – Completed category. 

El Museo del Prado en Filipinas
One Valenzuela Mall

About the Author


WTA is an innovative and multi-awarded design studio that fosters a diverse culture of ambitious and socially relevant ideas. We believe in and practice architecture that is socially relevant. Architecture that relates to the community, promotes urbanity, and develops society.

As architects and designers, we are often tagged as technical or artistic professionals. We would like to believe that more than that we are humanists. We are curators and proponents of the urban realm and we are in the business of creating places. Places that live and breathe, places that are a critical part of people’s lives and play a vital role in defining their sense of self and community.

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