Carmelite Monastery


The monastery is hidden away behind a busy junction at the corner of Church Street in Kensington, West London. Most of the work the practice carried out to the listed priory buildings was that of invisible stitching and mending. The sacristy and private chapel are two careful new additions.

The sacristy is a room between two worlds; the domestic space of the monastery and the sacred space of the altar. The redundant space at the bottom of a light well between the church and the priory was converted. Themes of threshold and transition express this room as a boundary, with a line of light from the roof light above bisecting the room.

The chapel is a conversion of a Victorian room opening onto the garden. The design contrasts the simple, solid geometry of the chapel furnishings with the wild profusion of nature outside. The gold tones of the materials used – amber, oak, bees-waxed stucco, linen, leather, gold and brass – are set against the green of the garden. There are twelve tall-backed chairs arranged around the altar to evoke the presence of the disciples. The tabernacle is a cube of solid laminated oak with a cylinder of gold inscribed within. It splits open to reveal a hidden space for the consecrated host.

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