The Bishop's Oratory, Ipswich

Whitworth, Ipswich, 2018


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in


Matthew Stearn     Download Original

  • photo_3_1    
  • photo_5_1    
  • photo_4_1    
  • photo_2_1    
  • photo_7_1    
  • photo_1_1    
  • photo_9_1    
  • photo_8_1    
  • 01-_floor_plan_a1    
  • 02-_floor_plan_electrical_a1    
  • 04-_north_south_elevation_a1 (1)    
  • 04-_north_south_elevation_a1    
  • 03-_east_west_elevation_a1_0    
  • 06-_section_detail_a1    

This project encompasses the design and construction of a petite, yet unique, private Chapel in the grounds of an individual dwelling in Ipswich.

We were provided with the initial concept design by Architect Brendan Phelan, which we then enhanced and developed into an achievable, yet cost-effective building solution.

The Place of Worship is situated within a heavily wooded area with a network of underground root systems, which have been maintained to ensure the longevity of the surrounding flora. This was achieved by incorporating of a simple raft foundation.

The building requires a low heat input, due to the high levels of insulation incorporated into the detailed design of the structure. However, there is also an electric heat mat for chilly mornings. The primary structure was formed using cross-laminated timber beams for the roof and floor plates, with timber stud-work forming the walls. This enabled the striking curvature of the building envelope, which wraps around the building, to create a single curvilinear architectural plan.

The vertically clad, larch façade draws influence from the landscape in which it sits, while providing a cost-effective solution to the build.This is in stark contrast to the sharp anthracite aluminium framing of the doors and creates an aesthetically pleasing, contemporary amalgamation.

This building draws the user into the organic space of the Oratory, with the aim of clearing the mind, body and spirit, and creating a peaceful prayer space.


  • Begun: Jul 2018
  • Completed: Sep 2018
  • Floor area: 12m2
  • Sector: Religious
  • Total cost: £25,457
  • Funding: Church of England
  • Tender date: Dec 2017
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works 2016
  • Address: The Bishop's House, Park Road, Ipswich, IP1 3ST, United Kingdom

Professional Team