Air Force Village Chapel
Architects: Fernando Martin Menis
Location: San Antonio Texas. EEUU
Use: Church. Religious Center
Structure: Reinforced concrete
Materials: Concrete walls, steel
Status: Project 2009
Client: Air Force EEUU
Budget: $4,000,000 USD
Chapel sitting generates two distinct exterior spaces. A main plaza becomes an area of social convergence, accommodating emergent functions such as a small cafe and shops. In the back is a more serene plaza, offering quiet reflection and connection with neighbors.
The chapel is envisioned as a iconic landmark, striking a memorable image from the approach along Freedom Way Road. Commensurate with the remarkable edifice is the treatment of site, unifying and punctuating the total experience. The path linking new and existing lakes reinforces the chapel as the culmination of a sacred procession – a sensory route unto spiritual encounter. Reflections from the new lake reinforce the slenderness of the chapel, mirroring and lengthening its heavenly reach.
The chapel building evokes a monolithic stone rising from green promontories enveloping its flanks, generating the ritualistic procession along a shaded, gentle slope, preparing the participant for the sacred rites
Fissures in the monolith invite light and air into the interior, bringing into the space views of the sky – celestial dome and realm of winged warriors. Two of these fissures cross, casting cruciform light into the sanctuary and upon the altar and ambon. The effect striking a theological chord, with God as both Rock and as Light
The narthex acts as a point of spiritual preparation for services, and upon completion of the celebration, serves as space of informal gathering between the celebrant and congregation.
For construction, the chapel walls are of cast reinforces concrete, while the fissure walls are finished with titanium dust to reflect views to the sky. The fissures themselves are composed of a double envelope – one of glass and the other of aluminum T-sections cast from recycled warplanes, glinting with the memory of martial aviation.