Liminal Moments.

 Liminal moments are the spaces between spaces. They are akin to threshold zones, but are spaces in their own right. This project utilizes light, opacity, and perceived depth to create a series of moments that lead from exterior to interior.

Illuminating Cambridge

Liminal moments are marked by innate qualities such as transition, expectation, and anticipation. They frame the reading of the spaces and surfaces which border them. This project studies a series of sequential moments that move from exterior to interior and back again. The primary program is a non-denominational chapel nested within an archaeological museum. This composition of sacred spaces capitalizes on their innate qualities of reverence and procession to generate liminal conditions. The religious program organizes the museum program around it, turning each gallery into a new zone of transition and movement. 

 

Within twenty miles of Cambridge, there are over forty active archaeological excavation sites. Artifacts dating from over four thousand years ago to the present day have been passing through Cambridge for the past decade. The archeology component of the program provides an opportunity for visitors, residents, and students to engage with the local history. The site is on the corner of Christ’s Pieces, a park in the center of Cambridge University. The building engages a transportation hub that receives buses arriving from the surrounding countryside. Over 20,000 visitors pass through the park and by this hub every day.

Sacred architecture serves as a social and spatial organizer for the city of Cambridge. The iconic steeples of churches define the skyline. In addition to their function as spaces of worship, churches and chapels host events, concerts, and community meetings. They serve as gathering spaces, and moments of calm scattered across the bustling University.

Categories

architecture, illumination, sacred, history, institutional, representation

Location

Cambridge, England

Size

36,000 ft²

Date

Spring 2019

Faculty

Margaret Fletcher​

Typology

chapel + archeology museum

Institution

Auburn University, Studio VIII

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Breaks in the lower volumes frame glimpses of the interior lobby and lower gallery.

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Exterior and interior moments are conscious of site circulation.

Urban Beacon

The site is on the corner of Christ’s Pieces, which is a park in the center of Cambridge University. The building engages an existing transportation hub that receives buses arriving from the surrounding countryside. Over 20,000 visitors pass through the park and by this hub every day.

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Illuminated liminal voids bring security to Christ’s Pieces

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A City in Shadow

Cambridge exists primarily in darkness. During the winter, daylight exists only between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. During this time, the sky is often overcast, foggy, and stormy, and outside of this time, the city is dark. The University is primarily composed of historic masonry buildings under forty-five feet tall, whose heavy facades are only punctured by small windows. As such, this building is designed to address conditions of darkness, with a focus on how artificial illumination impacts the reading of the building and its surroundings.

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Ascension

The volume passes through all levels of the building, preventing uniform spaces of stasis and encouraging continuous circulation. This is particularly observable at moments of vertical transition. Ascension from the subterranean archeology gallery towards ground level is marked by overhead illumination from an invisible source. The form of the chapel is designed to generate physically accessible liminal moments in the interior and visually engaging liminal conditions observable from the exterior.

© 2023 by Henry Savoie

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