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Mary, Mother of Mercy Church

A church of great presence and beauty embodying the dichotomies of light and darkness, of the masculine and feminine, of sky and earth.

  • Client Burleigh Heads Catholic Parish
  • Location Burleigh Heads, Queensland
  • Completion 2017

The Mary, Mother of Mercy Church at Burleigh Waters is the result of twenty years of planning. It is the primary Church of the largest parish in the country and caters for tourists and an increasing local congregation.

The brief was developed by the Burleigh Heads Parish. They asked for a church of great presence and beauty embodying the dichotomies of light and darkness, of the masculine and feminine, of sky and earth.  They wanted an original building not based upon conventional paradigms that rather embodied the new principles of Catholic worship.

All events (mass, weddings, funerals, communion, baptism, reconciliation etc) occur below the axial skylight. The pew layout is semi-circular and only ten deep, creating a sense of congregation; the sanctuary is one step up; defining the space without separation.

The lower structure is strongly sculpted, its’ colour drawn from the shale below; the ‘rock upon which the church is built’. The Nave is a lightweight pavilion cradled by the foundation; it is visually tied to the ground by two massive axial structures that span the length of the church and form the light spine.

The building reflects the gravitas of the mystery of faith but eschews rich materials or forms. It is restrained, with concrete floors, walls and structure; simple, elegant use of timber and stone and strong, joyful use of colour. It is clearly a church; identifiably Catholic; not grand nor reminiscent yet with an atmosphere of reverence and permanence.