It is rare enough to be asked to work on a private chapel: probably unique for that chapel to be a challenging cultural and religious merger between an Iranian and a German Lutheran. The design elements reflect that merger, with walls and ceilings in the traditional Iranian design; panels made up of fragmented mirror pieces set in geometric designs. Each panel was laboriously made in Iran by a team of dedicated craftsmen, before being shipped to the UK, to be installed on site.

For the floor and altar, designer Charles Marsden-Smedley specified a Portuguese Moleanos Fine Grain limestone. The altar has a tapered plinth, narrower in plan at its base and resting on this is a massive single carved cantilevered top slab of the limestone, elegantly tapered to the two ends, and tapered in plan as well. The effect is that the altar ‘grows’ out of the floor.

The final design elements were the insertion of two traditional stain glass panels into the entrance wall; the design of a set of simple bench seats with luxury leather upholstered top pads; a simple cross suspended above the altar, and finally a traditional Iranian carpet down the nave.

And then came the really interesting challenge – lighting such an extraordinary interior.

Early on we decided to use uplighters – the Targetti Jupiter drive-over light with anti-glare fins. Set into the stone slabs, around the perimeter of the chapel, the Targetti luminaires produce a light that is reflected down on to the altar, floor and benches. We realised this would create the geometric fractured light effect seen in the pictures and so evocative of mosque lighting.

The two long walls consist of golden pilasters at equal spacing. Between these pilasters are wide panels of non-coloured mirror. This rhythm is picked out and accentuated by the lighting design. Each pilaster has a single narrow beam uplight, and the wall panels each have two wider beam wall washers. These two sets of uplighters are on two circuits. For the most dramatic effect, only the pilaster lights are turned on.

The uplight produces a raking angle of light designed to enhance the gold-coloured carving which encloses either mirror fragments, or sometimes painted sections in a very distinctive blue that was matched on part of the benches, making it obvious the benches were specially designed for the chapel.

A lighting highlight is the altar and end wall. Targetti and Charles Marsden-Smedley worked on site with samples and mock-ups and quickly realised that the best solution was to use a single light so that there was only one set of projected light shapes. Continuing that theme of less is more, we realised that the cross did not need to be lit; it read better as a contrasting shape to the illuminated panels behind it. In the end the only downlights, the Targetti Otto Ceiling Lights were focussed on the stain glass windows so they could be seen at night from the garden.


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