Public Architecture Restoration – St Peter & Paul Church Renovation 140803

dion seminara architecture Principal Architect Dion Seminara received a Public Architecture Regional Commendation from the AIA in 2016 for the renovation of the Saints Peter & Paul Church in Bulimba.  This project was, according to Dion, an honour to undertake and a wonderful public architectural design opportunity allowing him to draw on his skills and experience and further beautify this truly spectacular church.

Ninety years ago, the brick church of Saints Peter and Paul was easily the grandest building in the suburb.  Ever since it has been the centre of parish worship, taking on rich layers of the sacred as generations of local Catholics have celebrated Sunday Mass, their marriages, the baptisms of their children and the funerals of their grandparents.   Fifty years ago, however, there was a fundamental shift in the way the Church understood what it was doing at the liturgy.  In answer to the question, who celebrates the liturgy? one could no longer answer, the priest, but rather the whole assembly of the baptised who participate in the corporate action of worship.

This has fundamental implications for the architectural arrangement.  The ambo and altar could no longer be left, elevated and isolated at the east end of the nave.  In reimagining the old architecture for a new liturgy, it was important to place the ambo and altar in the centre of the space, in the midst of the gathered Church at prayer.  Without any loss of seating capacity, a central space was created – the colourful tiled floor, the rearranged pews and the careful choice of lighting all help to refocus the attention into the centre, while respecting the east-west axis of the building.

Careful restoration of the external brickwork, artworks and the original colour scheme make this a sensitive work of preservation and restoration.  The ambo and altar carved from single cubes of marble and the ancient Norman font gifted to the parish provide a new vision for the space.  The balanced distribution of the seating gives the church a warm communal feel, while the formal arrangement of the centre and the suffused lighting give the church a dignity which evokes the transcendent.

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