Mirror Mirror
Project Duration- 6 weeks
Date Completed- March 2011
Media- Autocad drawings, Foamcore, chipboard and pulpboard models

Project Brief- Design a non denominational chapel for the RISD and Brown Community within easy reach for the entire RISD community, this chapel is intended to meet the spiritual needs of RISD's students, faculty and staff with their multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious backgrounds. Only the ground floor and outside courtyard of the existing building can be used. The existing columns cannot be removed.

Coming from India, I was exposed to so many religions. I realised that a lot of religions share the same ideas/beliefs but they have different views about these ideas/beliefs. From this, I developed the concept of perception. I used devices that play with illusion and perspective.
When one enters the chapel, they look down this corridor that seems very long. This is because I used forced perspective to make the corridor seem longer than it is. I also took advantage of the existing columns. These nooks in the corridor are individual meditation rooms. They also hold the bathrooms, lockers and the information booth.
From this space you transition into a small waiting area before entering the chapel. There is a small slit/gap between the wall, so that one can catch a glimpse of the chapel inside. One has to walk around and enter the chapel from either side. When one enters from the side instead of the front they get a richer perspective of the interior.
When one enters the main chapel area, the first thing they see is a large opening at the end which a large mirror. This mirror is at a 45 degree angle and reflects the sky. So when you sit down in the chapel you see a virtual image on the sky inside the chapel; hence there is this notion of heaven on earth. Light coming in also bounces off the mirror and enters the chapel. The mirror again here relates to the idea of perception. This is because a mirror helps make things clearer; one cannot see themselves without a mirror and the mirror makes people contemplate. It is also a way to search for the truth, which is what all religions do. The light entering the chapel is only a reflection but it’s the closest thing one has to heaven. Similarly religion tries to get closer to the truth and beliefs are the closet thing religion has to the truth.
The walls inside the chapel converge making the space seem longer. Approximately 50 people can be accommodated inside the chapel. There are also hidden doors on these walls so that people can exit through these doors after the service is over. Hence, the circulation path makes the experience more dramatic. There is also access to the roof through the stairs or elevator on the side.
I'm hoping that this chapel will bring people together to accept and respect other religions and also to look from other’s perspectives to understand religions better. Also the chapel is mirrored along a central axis aiding to the idea that religions are mirror images of each other.
The first few images show my initial design ideas and experiments with light, mirroring and perception leading up to the final model. I also rendered exterior and interior views. I would like sandstone and wood to be my primary materials because I wanted to give an earthy tomb like feel to the visitor and also wanted the materials to compliment the already existing stone building. They also reminiscent of Buddhist rock cut caves in India.

flythrough of chapel

all study models  

 

existing space  

first and roof floor plan  

section a  

section b & c  

north elevation  

exterior isometric views  

Final Model  

renderings showing  interior views