Abstraction of Mt. Sinai

The St. John Bosco Chapel is the foremost religious structure built in all of Don Bosco School’s 50 years of presence in Dumaguete City. Amid the buildings within the school estate, it is the solitary edifice identifiable with an iconic, monumental design.

The chapel stands on a 45-degree angled axis in contrast to the grid-like outline of existing buildings. Standing in front of the school gym, the faithful get a three-D and finest sight of the sanctuary. It upsurges 24 meters high, comparable to an eight-storey structure.

The roof and the exceptional design of the skylight is an abstraction of Mt. Sinai with prominence on upright lines that point towards the heavens.

Going inside, the faithful are overawed by a cathedral-like experience. Central in plan but octagonal in shape, the nave and aisles seem to emanate from the cross. They are red-wine in color, symbolizing the Blood of Christ flowing throughout this Bosconian community.

This spatial experience gets even further exhilarating; the altar is well irradiated naturally through the day. White light pierces through the skylight above like glimmers of glory coming from the highest heaven. The cross and figure of the Risen Christ are illuminated from the sidewalls with the same natural white light. Up close, the altar table and lectern are enfolded in red and white terrazzo as if stippled by the Blood of Christ.

The altar area is well ventilated by concealed windows from the sidewalls; the choir with decorative circular holes as if punched through the back wall; and the entire sanctuary through the five-grilled partitions of the octagonal plan.

Looking around, the faithful notices that white and shades of white were used to tone the chapel. This, according to designer/architect Ned Carlos, is to give an ambience of purity, as Christ was pure.

“The experience,” concludes the architect, “is like going to a medieval cathedral but with a modern twist.”


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