Holy Rosary Church

- foyer addition and improvements to existing church


Location: Bendigo, Victoria

Date: 2017


  • BDAV Commendation-Non Residential Design Alterations & Additions
  • NABD Best New/Alteration/Addition Public Building Design

Builder: Gerard K House PTY LTD

Photographer: Imagine Pictures

This contemporary addition to the church met the brief to transform the foyer into a light atrium. The new addition captures natural light, converting an old church into a radiant, airy and uplifting space. The minimalist finishes palette combined with the use of concrete pillars gives the building a new purposeful area that works as a transition between the congregation hall and the outside.
— Building Designers Association Victoria
A considered review of the building’s layout has resulted in a harmonious space that is simultaneously friendly and formal. The building’s bold structural forms and clever mix of materials create a distinctive presence on the street and the welcoming entrance presents a height and open interior to the community. The result will undoubtedly restore this building’s social position in the community.
— National Association Building Designers


“The existing church was very dark and without a central aisle, preventing it from hosting events such as traditional weddings or funerals. The design approach was to embrace the existing church building by utilising its unique footprint and maximising useable space. “Because the budget was a nonnegotiable – having been fundraised – the design sought to reuse as much of the existing material and structure, while keeping waste to a minimum,” explains Glenn.

The exterior material palette includes glazing, concrete, steel and the original brick walls. The refined minimalist approach to the design gave the building clean lines and a simplicity appropriate to a place of worship. The rejuvenation saw full height glazing added to the entrance foyer, maximizing natural light throughout the building.

Internally the addition to the church has a striking design, with a raked ceiling with operable awning windows installed to assist with heat purging and cross ventilation. The interior design bears homage to the brutalist building with simple decoration. Textured and warming timber are used to contrast with the white and concrete interior palette. The light-filled foyer provides a place for the congregation to mingle following a service. A simple timber sculpture, on the ceiling, of a sea vessel’s hull draws inspiration from Christian imagery, the minimalistic form in keeping with the rest of the design.

The standout of the new design is the crucifix-shaped, cut-out frame that faces the road, doubling as signage and shelter for the main entrance. In keeping with the extensive reuse of materials, the cut-out cross has been utilised as a focal point in the building’s entrance.

In the end, the stunning transformation came in under budget and just shy of the priest’s retirement. “The feedback from the congregation is amazing,” concludes Glenn. “The area has really been transformed. The usage and patronage of the church has increased, with wedding season looking to be particularly busy!”