Wollaston College Chapel
The Wollaston College Chapel is a dominant feature on the Wollaston site and has an important part in the history of the Anglican Diocese in Perth. The Chapel was consecrated by Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 2 April, 1965.
The Chapel is open for quiet reflection, meditation or prayer from 8am until 5pm each week day.
Designed by Hungarian-born architect Julius William Elischer, the Chapel has no set place for the altar or for any furniture, to enable the space to be configured in multiple ways. Its design is a bold departure from traditional church buildings and reflects the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s.
It is a remarkable building. Inspired by the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp (designed by Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier), the building must have appeared radically, even frighteningly, modern and new in 1965. Unlike some architecture of that period, however, the Chapel still appears remarkably fresh in its design today – no ‘fashionably retro’ here! A pamphlet written to ‘introduce’ the ‘exciting chapel for Wollaston’ to the Diocese and Province, was entitled ‘a glimpse of the future’. At the same time, readers were told, ‘Wollaston’s new chapel will be of the greatest simplicity and dignity, returning to the earliest days of the Church for its inspiration’.
The vision is of a ‘tent of meeting’. The stark white interior is punctuated by deep-set windows of different coloured glass: the description of Notre Dame du Haut – ‘the glass glows like deep-set rubies, emeralds, amethysts and jewels of all colours’ – is equally appropriate here. The concave ceiling appears to ‘float’ above the building, owing to clear glass panels between the tops of the thick concrete walls and the roof itself. Light ‘flickers’ through the coloured glass and through the ‘clerestory’, suggesting the movement of light through canvas walls and under a canvas roof. The original floor (now restored), laid by students even on the morning of the Consecration, are deliberately earth-coloured bricks: this ‘tent’ rests solidly on God’s good earth. Furthermore, the walls of the Chapel resist any ‘straight lines’, again suggesting the billowing of the canvas.
The labyrinth at Wollaston is a scaled replica of the Chartres Labyrinth. It was built because, increasingly, churches and other people interested in the inner human journey are discovering the value of walking and praying. As the Wollaston Labyrinth is outdoors, though at the side of the Chapel, people are welcome to walk it at any time. Groups wishing to use it, however, should contact the College to make a booking.
How to get there
Wollaston enjoys a central location on the edge of Bold Park, fifteen minutes from the City of Perth, with views of Bold Park and the Indian Ocean.
Wollaston is easily accessible by car from most of Perth’s central suburbs, positioned near the West Coast Highway and Rochdale Road. Plenty of free parking.
The College is a 20 minute walk from bus stop 16923, near the corner of Montgomery and Stephenson Avenues, in Mount Claremont.